Schedule and Events

March 26-29, 2012, Software Test Professionals Conference, New Orleans
July, 14-15, 2012 - Test Coach Camp, San Jose, California
July, 16-18, 2012 - Conference for the Association for Software Testing (CAST 2012), San Jose, California
August 2012+ - At Liberty; available. Contact me by email:

Friday, June 27, 2008

On Management And Metrics

Speaking of Management: Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker analyzed how General Motors was run in the 1940's, essentially defining management as a term. He wrote a number of books, published an incredible number of articles in the Harvard Business Review, and has a Graduate School of Management named in his honor. More importantly, Drucker defined the term "Knowledge Worker", and made it clear that the knowledge worker of tomorrow would have more authority and scope of responsibility than the factory foreman of yesterday. Every MBA I have ever met has had to read something by Peter Drucker at some point in graduate school. I read The Practice Of Management several years ago (and have re-read it quite a bit) and, while it's a little thick and a little dry, I found it absolutely wonderful.

So last week I started reading Drucker's Magnum Opus - Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices weighing in at 819 pages. You'll never guess what I found about thirty pages in:

The measurements which give us productivity for the manual worker, such as number of pieces turned out per hour or per dollar of wage, are irrelevant if applied to the knowledge worker. There are few things as useless and unproductive as the engineering department which with great dispatch, industry, and elegance turns out the drawings for an unsalable product. Productivity with respect to the knowledge worker is, in other words, primarily quality.

So there you have it. The very inventor of our modern concepts of management and knowledge work writes that metrics can miss the whole point - in 1973!

Go figure.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

An update from Matt's day job

My last company was really top flight. I enjoyed my time at Priority Health; it's a good company. Toward, the end though, I had this odd experience. I struck up a conversation with a guy in the lunch line, and he said "My name is Mark, and I am in IT."

That was totally obvious to me. In fact, the guy sat diagonally from me, one row across and one cubical over. He had been with the company a year.

How is it possible that Mark not only did not know me, but he didn't even realize what department I was in?

Somehow, I had access to people, names, faces, and expertise that he did not. I had a /tacit/, /implicit/ network that was not publicly available. Even if he read the wiki we used for team collaboration extensively, he probably wouldn't know what I looked like. And even if he did, it's doubtful that he could connect to me when he thought of say, automating testing of large database recordsets.

It turns out that the tools we lacked at Priority are the same tools you might get from Myspace, or FaceBook, or possibly LinkedIn. But there's no way way to get those tools inside a company ... yet.

So I went to work for Socialtext.

Last week at the enterprise 2.0 show, Information Week Magazine interviewed Ross Mayfield, our president and chair of our board. (He gave a keynote speech at the show; Socialtext suffers no slobs.)

In the interview, which is up on Youtube, Ross shows off our latest product offerings here.

It's a great time to be a tester.

More to come.

Friday, June 20, 2008

On Neogtiation

If you want to get good at negotiation, you could go to your library and check out every book on the subject, then practice by doing low-risk negotiations like bartering for a car. (Be sure you read Getting to Yes and The McGraw-Hill 36 hour negotiation course. Oh, and "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and anything by Dale Carnegie).

Or, if you want the super-cliff notes, you could read this article by Eric Sink.

Yeah, it's that good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A typical response to a typical day

Chris McMahon pointed me to this, and I thought it was worth sharing here:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Best Practices?

Let's say you invite an Olympic marathon competitor and the Olympic Gold-Medal Winner in 100 yard dash over for a late afternoon lunch. (Did I mention - while winning the gold medal, the 100 yard dash guy set a world's record.)

Which one is better? The sprinter?

After lunch, you decide to take a little drive in rural Nevada. Along the way, your car runs out of gas on a deserted road, 15 miles from a gas station.

Which of the two is the better now?

In other words, the sprinter is clearly 'better' ...

... except when he isn't.

This is how I feel about best practices for software testing.

There are no best practices. Practices are better or worse in a given context.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Testing Magazines

Two new testing magazines are out. Subscriptions are free; they are advertising-supported and, for now, PDF based.

The first, What is Testing, is organized by Vipul Kocher of What Is fame. You can click here to subscribe. What is testing is based on the Asian Subcontinent of India.

The second is testing experience, another free magazine, which seems to have more of a European Feel. You can subscribe here.

Both of these magazines offer a chance to connect a large, emergent group of testers to a community, of which I am very excited. I wish them the best, and would encourage you to join.

If it's any incentive, I've got a guest editorial in the first issue of What is Testing, so it can't be all bad, right?

Oh, c'mon, now, work with me here ...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

So ... What, exactly, is a unit test?

A popular testing magazine has asked my collegue, Chris McMahon, and myself, to write an article defining terms in unit testing.

Of course, the biggest term of all for that article is probably "unit test." I've been thinking about that today, and I would like your help.

What do you think?