Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Good Testing & Sapient Reflections

It was a good while since I read James Bach's posts about sapient testing, here, plus some of the previous ones (here and here). I even contributed some observations on it in the testing vs checking discussion.

I have an understanding (my interpretation) of what is meant by sapient testing and it's something I can tune in with completely. In my book there is no room for a human tester to be doing non-sapient testing. Agree?

So, do I call myself a sapient tester?


I work with a lot of testers and non-testers. Sapient testing wouldn't be any big problem for the testers I work with to understand and accept. The non-testers might be a different story - for the past 3 years in my current role I've been working on introducing intelligent test selection (initially applied to regression testing) within a part of the organisation.

I've made a big deal about thinking - about the testing we're doing, what we're doing and when, what we're not doing and trying to get a grasp on what this means - for me I've been contrasting this with the abscence of these aspects. I haven't called it non-intelligent testing, I've just made a point of not calling it intelligent testing.

At the same time I've also started introducing the phrase "good testing" and implying that if we're not thinking about what we're testing (and why, what it means, what we're not covering, what the results say/don't say etc, etc) then we're not doing "good testing".
Of course, there's scope for people to say "I think about my testing" when they might not - I observe, question and discuss, and together we come to a consensus of whether they're thinking about their testing: what assumptions are involved, what are the observations saying, what are the observations not saying, should the test approach be changed, what else did they learn...
By using the phrase "good testing" I'm also priming the audience - especially the non-testing part - they want the testing to be good and now they're learning that this implies certain aspects to be considered. Eventually I hope they automatically connect it with the opposite of "just" testing.

So, changing an organisation (or even a part of it) takes time - just like changing direction on an oil tanker - there's a long lead-time. That's one of the reasons why I don't use sapient or sapience in my daily vocabulary - I'm using the "keep it simple" approach towards non-testers.

Pavlov or Machiavelli?
If that means using "good testing", "intelligent testing" or "thinking tester" to produce a type of Pavlov reaction from non-testers then I'm happy with that. Does that make my approach Machiavellian?

So, although I might be sapient in my approach and identify with a lot of the attributes of being a sapient tester, I do not call myself sapient. Does this make me a closet sapient tester?

Are you a closet sapient tester? Have you come out? Are you Machiavellian or otherwise nicely-manipulatively inclined?

Are you a 'good tester' or do you just do 'good testing'? Do you know or care?

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