February 18, 2021 // By Paul Grizzaffi
The year was 2010… or something. I was building an automation strategy and implementation for an e-commerce company. I was fortunate enough to be working with some highly skilled testing leaders. One of these leader’s desks was adjacent to mine. He was watching a video stream from a testing conference (even in 2010!), but he had to go to a meeting and left the stream running. I happened to glance over when one of the slides was being displayed. I was shocked. The presenter was explaining some automation concepts. Not only was I familiar with the information being presented, but teams I had previously been on were also doing that stuff years ago and I thought that it was de rigueur. I couldn’t believe this was being presented at a national (or international) testing conference.
When that leader and our boss returned to their desks, I told them what I had seen and what I was thinking. I asked them, “Why was this person standing on a stage presenting this stuff like it was novel? Doesn’t everybody know this?”. They both kind of smirked at me and said, “no, very few people know this stuff”.
I’d just struck gold! A bonanza! I told them I was going to put together some material, go on a speaking tour, get the big bucks, and retire to Tahiti. Again, they both kind of smirked at me and said, “uh, no, only the biggest names in testing who write books make any kind of appreciable cash, and even they have regular jobs too”.
Though my new life plan was in ruins, I was undeterred about putting together some material to try to speak at a conference. I figured I had some experience to share that some people out there would find valuable; plus, if I got accepted, I thought “conference speaker” would look good on a resume. Fast forward to 2021 and here we are; apparently, my basic-to-me-but-not-everyone material was well received.
Why am I telling you all this? To say, “no, in fact not everyone knows this”, where this is that thing you know. In my specific case, I’d stumbled onto a need: lots of organizations were starting to introduce automation into their testing or, in some cases, starting to introduce testing into their product delivery. They didn’t know the things that I knew because they didn’t have the same context I did, a context that they were starting to find valuable.
Similarly, no one has your context, your knowledge, and your experience all bound up in a single entity. Everyone has something to share that someone else doesn’t know, even if you are a first-time content creator; someone will find value in your content.
So, what’s the point of all this? Well, I have a few:
- For the foreseeable future, there will be people entering the testing and automation profession. As such, there will be a need for introductory-level material for all facets of testing. It’s important to note that this is not only for new grads. Many existing organizations are adding more explicit testing, embracing automation, or changing their testing and quality models. These organizations need this intro-level material as well.
- The above bullet applies to technology development in general, but is especially important for testing-related information, at least as long as most university and training institutions provide little-to-no education about testing.
- Every organization’s context is different. You and your organization may have extensive experience with a specific tool and are completely satisfied with it. That being true, hearing someone else’s experience with that same tool, even if they don’t have “as much” experience with that tool, can still be of value to you because you are hearing about successes and challenges in a different context. This can give you ideas that you’ve not yet had and alert you to pitfalls you’ve not yet encountered.
- Technology and design/development practices change and evolve quickly. Even the most diligent and obsessed of us don’t have the time to explore every new technology, tool, framework, programming language, approach, and process. Hearing what others have experienced can help reduce that exploration time. At the very least, it can help you categorize information into buckets like “possibly appropriate for us now, so I should research this soon” or “likely not appropriate for us now, so I’ll defer this until later”.
There are nearly infinite ways to use tools, technology, and processes. Thinking about whether or not “everyone” or even “anyone” knows this drives our assumptions about what others know and our, sometimes misplaced, expectations of work that they are doing and the value we can provide to them.
If you have something to share, share it. If you solve a problem, no matter how small, write a blog post or article about it, especially if you were unable to find a solution online. Why? Because, no, truly, not everyone knows this.