It’s About The Testing, Stupid

By now you are most likely aware of the drama unfolding in the context driven community:

In some ways, I am saddened by this schism. Context driven testing means a lot to me, and I owe it a huge debt:
  • it taught me to question my context, instead of making assumptions
  • it taught me to think, instead of blindly assuming the best way
  • it taught me to be aware of my own biases, instead of letting them blind me.

And yet, as context driven testers go, I am a heretic: I am a member of the Canadian Software Testing Board and support certification as a means of promoting tester education. In the context driven world, “certification is bad” is a sacred cow, yet I found the ISTQB syllabi to be of great value in my own development. It helped to open my eyes to the breadth of testing and served as a fantastic jumping off point to a wide range of related literature.

Does that mean I believe in best practice? No, I believe in context driven selection of practices that will work.
Does that mean I believe that certifications are the best and only way to educate testers? Absolutely not. Indeed, I am deeply impressed by the depth and challenges of BBST, and have signed up as a volunteer instructor. That, and I’m looking forward to attending RST later this year.
Ironically, these views make me a heretic from the perspective of other “schools”, and my self-identification as a context driven tester has caused some eyebrows to raise in suspicion.
I shouldn’t have to write in these terms; about schisms, heresy and sacred cows. It may be human nature to form cliques with similar norms and values, and to exclude those who don’t conform – but does denying diversity serve the goal of improving testing?
I am passionate about testing, about providing the best testing I possibly can, and about helping others do so. It’s all about the testing: I’ll take from any source that can help me with these goals. Context driven testing helped to open my mind, and I’ll willingly trade ideas with anyone – from any “school” – who genuinely wishes to do so.
Context driven testing may not be a religion, but perhaps it can evolve into a broad church for those who care deeply about testing, and who are willing to step beyond pronouncements about the ONE right way to test.

5 thoughts on “It’s About The Testing, Stupid

    • Hey, didn’t we just meet on Twitter?

      Ref “as context driven as context allows” is interesting. A given context may demanout that you rigourously apply a standard, or refuse to allow your use of ET (I’ve been there). But the stakeholders who demand such things are PART OF the context. Accepting that (with a health warning) doesn’t make one any less context driven. At the end of the day we serve our projects – and recognition of that is part of being context driven.

      Ref “for every practice, there is a context where it is the best fit”, the more I think about this the less convinced I am. I don’t subscribe to “best practice in context” (though “worst practice in context” is an interesting thought): any practice comes with its own strengths and weakness in relation to a given context. Saying one is best in context is a gross simplification of a complex decision making process that needs to focus on the trade offs – what is the most palatable blend of risk and reward for the stakeholders involved?

    • James, no, the last thing I want to do is form a new school, clique, or whatever. I fear that even a School of Iconoclasts would, paradoxically, wind up with it’s own established dogma.

      I remain context driven, willing to exchange views, and eager to be proven wrong.


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