Randomness Generates Order

September 1, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

Nature does not play its game by planning or giving reasons for its actions. It already has a strong tendency to form one after another of fascinating structures, all the way from snowflakes to galactic super clusters. Structures, which undisputedly work!

We humans, on the other hand, have a special tendency to unknowingly reject that complexity of nature. We build as straight a street as possible, our houses look like gigantic Lego-pieces, we draw lines between the stars shown on the night sky and if our life is not in “order”, we feel a deep offence.

Do we reject the complexity of nature’s randomness because we cannot understand it? Do we create models of its workings only to be able to discover something which we wanted to discover? Perhaps our simple creations are meaningful, however, because they are all a part of the grand multidimensional play of nature…

Let’s return to the surface! A software is also a model on a practical level, which we have built in our frenzy for creating something. Its functions are accurately pre-determined. Test specifying produces another model – the check model – which might match the software’s model. In our creation frenzy we are easily prone to mistakenly take these models for perfect.

How do we, who are at least imperfect in our mind possibly define something that is perfect? Check models do not generate apparitions, nor can thusly ever lead to perfection. Only as a part of some greater, undefined play prone to randomness can it serve the whole meaningfully.

Reject your human temptation to charge towards the world of models and formalities. Do not seek basis for your actions, nor demand other people to give any for theirs, because the reasons always end up in a restricted, imperfect, model.

Ninja Skills make a Tester

August 29, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

Overnight baked, fresh-from-the-oven software version is on your desk.  The tester is doing the tester’s work conscientiously when sitting in the tester’s own pen mouth foaming and going through the test cases. A good tester will get through 100 cases today as well, maintaining the pace until reaching the goal. That tester doesn’t talk much, nor ask troublesome questions. That’s a good tester.

Or is it?

  1. In reality, a skilled tester challenges the software product’s concept in the get go. The tester is interested in where the money is coming from and why. Who will be the first to buy this and how? The tester tests the product already in the first conversation with the product’s owner, or with the end user.
  2. Next, the skilled tester challenges the architecture of the product. The tester is interested in how many users are expected on the first day of launch and what kind of load balancer is the service using. The tester is testing the product already in the first conversation with the main architect and developers.
  3. Finally, the tester challenges the implementation. The tester is not interested in pointing out that the product is working like intended. In reality, the tester is interested in where the product hasn’t yet become broken. How would the next serious defect emerge?

A tester keen about professionality does trip horribly should the the tester first go and challenge the concept or architecture.

No one wants to talk to, or work with an annoying smart ass. The work is challenging enough as it is.

It has nothing to do with rationality. Despite the benefits, the emotion steers. That is why a genuine Guru is a nice and smart fellow. The Guru gets taken along because it feels like a good idea.

The entire trinity is only possible to be put into use in a team filled with masochists, or by delicately sneaking around.

Challenging the concept and architecture are ninja skills, which are not talked about, nor do you see them being used.

But Aren’t you a Brand Already?

August 24, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

You are hardly likely to have a logo or a marketing chief. Your salespeople do not book new customer visits, because there’s but one of them. As your web page serves your Linkedin, and you have no marketing department. Your only sales presentation is your CV and a reference, but you are still a brand. Whether you liked it or not.

You represent some promise the moment you get chosen, rented, hired or bought. If you are employed, someone has already believed in that silent promise for the entire money and more.

The value of your brand is dependant on your skill to hold that promise. If you don’t quite reach the expectations of that promise, your brand starts to erode. If, on the other hand, you manage to keep to your promise and surprise by doing better than the expectations, the value of your brand starts soaring.

“But what is this promise you are talking about?” you might ask.

Precisely, I say. What if, you were to start a secret project? Get to the bottom of what promises you are known for. Then take that promise in your name and start leading it towards new heights.

Could you start making a draft, to write, or try talking about it in front of a mirror on your coffee breaks?

You have the power to decide: Do you start to promise yourself, or do you let the world decide for you?

Quality doesn’t Guarantee Results

August 22, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

I have sat in a tester’s chair while at the same time a developer colleague across the aisle was fine tuning two lines of code for six hours. The solution wasn’t elegant enough, and that was why it still needed tuning. The project’s schedule failed horribly.

I have been in a team, which discovered one hundred bugs too many in a week. The developers got fed up with the rain of bugs and lost sight of results in the horizon. The testers had to go.

I have tested software, which really seemed like having no defects. The customers saw no value in such an achievement and the market price that was thus high was not good enough. The business went dry.

We experts are excited about precision and about the quality we leave behind. Sometimes so excited, that we forget the most important thing.

Overquality is a problem of quality, should no one else want it.

Why isn’t the Software Suitable?

August 19, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

One can develop software in two ways.

We can get an amazing perspective of the problem, which we then will solve. We produce something so new and interesting that the audience is ready to change their mind or behavior for us.

On the other hand, we can get an amazing perspective of the audience’s opinions and behavior. We supply something that exactly fits our audience’s established decisions and customs.

Recognizing this difference is difficult. Most of the time it is forgotten entirely and then we find ourselves wondering why the software isn’t welcome.

A tester’s job is to also ask the obvious and troublesome questions. Could you mold this to be your next tool?

There is a Medicine to Get Started

August 15, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

Sometimes writing feels amazingly difficult. That is why I strive over the threshold by starting with the first sentence. That pioneer of written expression has the permission to be really bad, as long as it just shows up. I might just make a note of the obvious and put it in quotation marks.

Writing is damn difficult.

The next work phase is to address the crux of the matter. While an idea is missing, the assignment feels impossible at first. But ideas function just like inspiration does. If I let them surprise me while I am hard at work, then something new and amazing can be born. That is why I put the clock ticking.

The first 25 minutes of virtual clock’s ticking from the speakers of my computer does miracles. I write without interruptions the agreed upon time. At first I get loads of bullshit, but suddenly the ideas start to condense. Sometimes I might even discover diamonds.

A sudden flash of insight for you might be entirely different for me. In addition, if we were to return to the same text in one year’s time, our new insights might even surprise ourselves.

Writing, just like testing, is meant to produce a result. I write, so that something next to the result would move and maybe later lean towards that result.

Yet, without a sight of the end result, the whole labor is in vain.  That is why starting often makes people anxious. When you previously started with your assignment, did you explain to yourself what the end goal for your assignment was?

Testing can strive, for example, to produce certainty. In that case, our mission is vastly different, from when we strive to discover new defects. Do you know which one of those your colleagues, bosses or clients need today?

World-class results are born only from accurate hits, but first you need to know how the goal looks like.

If a Miracle were to Happen Overnight

August 10, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

Let us imagine for a moment that you go to bed in the evening and fall fast asleep. Not even a need to pee wakes you up and a new morning dawns with you well rested. It is easy to snap on the coffee maker that was already filled the previous night. While you wait for the coffee to get ready, you are filled with a strange feeling.

As you get to your workplace, it becomes clear that a miracle has taken place during the night. Just like in the movies sometimes, where your most important problem has just suddenly vanished. And effects it has on everything are just plain to see.

What is the first thing you see when you get to work that makes you notice the miracle? What things have suddenly become possible? How does that feel?

I asked this “miracle-question” in one firm’s tester training and the answer was put into paper. 11 responders from 18 had told that the first sign of miracle is this: Logging in to the test environment works in the morning. That it is still up and running after yesterday, and you can get to work at once.

It did not take long to figure out where we might find the most important assignments of a testing organization next week.

While we spend our strength to point at problems, people quickly get frustrated. It is not a very fertile soil for changes to think who could be the person who would make these problems their own and start solving them.

The miracle-question changes our perspective in a critical manner. It helps us explore a vision of something better and makes the end goal we strive for visible for each and everyone. Knowing the result is the first prerequisite for a change for the better.

The Rules of Deeds

July 2, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

The air has stilled. The clock’s seconds-hand seems to miss beats while there is a wind blowing tumbleweeds across the room. I point at Saho with my finger and wag my thumb for a simple reload action.

Freeze! I’ve got a gun!

Saho stares for a moment, stupefied. First at me, then at my finger.

Isn’t that THE gun I gave you for Christmas?! You bastard! Judas! How many pieces of silver were you paid?!

The entire atmosphere in the room shifts. From only a few sentences. Some might even feel like laughing. The game is on! This is the most important cornerstone for succeeding in improvisation. To consent for an adventure. Say YES to all the madness that is leaking from the opposing player.

Respectively, the game can be ruined in seconds. With a couple of simple choices of words the ball drops immediately.

That’s not a gun. That’s your finger.

I occasionally meet a tester stuck wearing such concrete boots on the tester training courses. That person’s vocabulary begins from the words: “NO, BUT…” Test ideas have been depleted years ago and it is painful to witness such professional frustration.

If you want to capture the crowd’s attention, you do not have the time for picking up balls. The same holds true for breaking the chains of thought. New ideas primarily find fertile ground in explorative voyages to the unknown. Such voyages begin with the words “YES, AND…”

Do you sometimes wish more from life? Such as a guru’s mantle on your shoulders or just lighter steps at the end of the day? I recommend replacement therapy along the lines of Tina Fey.

Seek, read and make your own the four golden rules of improvisation. That’s when the magic starts happening.

Why is ’I’ a Magic Word?

June 20, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

Last Sunday I went for a brunch in Vihiluodon Kala restaurant, which serves delightful local food. They catered grilled shrimps, which especially stole my attention. Ritva told us thus:

“These shrimps happen to be especially good today. I put them last evening into a chili-lime marinade. I grilled the delicacies myself on open fire today, in fact, just an hour ago. I recommend to give them a try!”

Damn, that left a great feeling.

At the end of February I sat in the Norwegian’s plane from Oulu to Helsinki. The plane was running a bit late, since we had become stuck at the defrosting station to wait for something. Flight captain Sjöman announced that the plane would be running a bit late. At first I started to get frustrated. However, our captain’s communication did change the experience totally.

“Dear passengers. I was not satisfied with the defrosting service performed on the wings and asked the airport staff to redo the operation. I beg for your patience. The operation will be done in ten minutes and I will ensure that we will be arriving to Helsinki only five minutes behind schedule!”

Damn, that left a great feeling.

I would like to share more of similar stories and start with the words “I received a test report yesterday in which…”

The Responsibility Lies in the Listener. That Means You!

June 13, 2016 | Author: Antti Niittyviita

The word ‘game’ is a homonym. It is a word which carries multiple meanings. It can mean, for example, the kind of animals that one goes to hunt for. It can also mean an established wholeness of rules that come together to form an entertaining way to spend time, sometimes in the form of a software creation, but sometimes having a more down to earth pieces, such as is with a game of hide and seek. The language we use is full of vagueness.

Everything we try to describe through language is a crude simplification of the reality. Whether we speak of writing, speech or thinking, our language strives to describe a limitless quantity of possibilities.

We Finns have a saying relating to this. It holds true, not only with the people from Savonia, but also with the rest of us. You might have heard it, or something similar to it.

The responsibility lies in the listener.

Especially for people who are working with specialist jobs the responsibility of interpretations is a prerequisite for success. Curiosity, attention and interest compete easily for the top spots of our most important working skills.

The responsibility is not limited to dialogue only. The interpretation is also at the mercy of other things. Have you ever found yourself thinking that, for example, the energy levels of your body, your metabolism and even the current weather can alter meanings dramatically?

Acknowledging the responsibility and recognizing the factors together change the entire game.

This leads to surprising freedom. As it happens, it becomes possible with little exercise to make choices that make the world seem prettier and the results of your work pleasantly surprise the parties important to us time after another.

Is it not strange that despite our freedom there is such a large group of information system projects which they try to steer at the same time from both the contract papers and from the requirements documents? And furthermore these interpretations strive for minimum implementations?

You have not only the freedom, but the power to make a better choice. What would you choose?!