What Does it Take to Change the Software Testing Industry? Courage!

My fellow AST board member and resident “software anthropologist & software tester”, Pete Walen, recently posted about what he felt it took to make a difference or change the world. He rather pointedly asked the question, “When was the last time you were proud of the work you did?” Excellent question! One of the values I talk about with my teams is integrity, and an example of how I see that being demonstrated in your testing should be a refusal to accept mediocrity. After some modest questioning from his readers about challenging processes and the fear of losing your job, Pete came back with this (emphasis mine):

“If that idea does not give you a certain period of pause, you might be independently wealthy,  have no responsibilities beyond yourself or, well, you just don’t care about the future. There may be something else at work.  There may be some ideas that I have not considered.  Or, maybe you just don’t care.

Even better! Changing the way you, your project, or your business conduct and value testing is hard work! And it takes more than brains – it takes guts. Software testing is loaded with unchallenged ideas from the last 20 or so years, and changing its perception works against ingrained bias and prejudice. Not only that, the industry is lousy with vendors and consultants who earn a tidy income from high volume, low margin (and low value) test factories. And trust me, successfully changing that environment is not about bringing your own lunch – its about eating someone elses!

So here’s why I think Pete’s post is so important. Jump eight thousand miles or so from snowy Grand Rapids, Michigan to sunny Pune, India. Now, I have travelled and worked in India for over 10 years, but something struck me about the conversations on my last trip – the tone. I had the distinct pleasure of participating in an AST round table discussion on testing skills with Pradeep Soundararajan CEO of Moolya, Justin Hunter CEO of Hexawise, Smita Mishra CEO of QA Zone and our hosts, Cognizant.

Keith Klain - AST India Roundtable

Talking testing with Hexawise, Cognizant, Moolya and QAZone

The discussion ranged from which testing skills are hot in the market to how best to use tools in a rapidly changing environment. But for me, the highlight of the night came when one of the over 200 people attending asked what it takes to improve testing in a company. The “Kung Fu Panda” from Moolya raised his hand and said “One thing – Courage!“. James Bach did a great write up in Tea Time with Testers about how Moolya are changing the way a software testing company runs in India (or the world for that matter), and after spending time with Pradeep and seeing loads of examples of their work, I know they take changing the software testing industry seriously.

And so should you. According to Mark Twain, courage is not the absence of fear – but the mastery of it. There are people working in software testing all over the globe who are questioning long standing ways of working – some for the first time. Get yourself energized and get involved. All it takes is a bit of self-reflection like the brand Pete Walen is selling, followed up by a healthy dose of action Moolya-style: courage!