Is there a name for this?  If not, I’m going to call it a “fire drill test”.

  • A fire drill test would typically not be automated because it will probably only be used once.
  • A fire drill test informs product design so it may be worth executing early.
  • A fire drill test might be a good test candidate to delegated to a project team programmer.

Fire drill test examples:

  • Our product ingests files from an ftp site daily.  What if the files are not available for three days?  Can our product catch up gracefully?
  • Our product outputs a file to a shared directory.  What if someone removes write permission to the shared directory for our product?
  • Our product uses a nightly job to process data?  If the nightly job fails due to off-hour server maintenance, how will we know?  How will we recover?
  • Our product displays data from an external web service.   What happens if the web service is down?

Too often, us testers have so much functional testing to do, we overlook the non-functional testing or save it for the end.  If we give these non-functional tests a catchy name like “Fire Drill Test”, maybe it will help us remember them during test brainstorming.

I Attended John Stevenson’s great talk and workshop at Monday night’s Software Testing Club Atlanta.  I’m happy to report the meeting had about 15 in-person attendees and zero virtual attendees.  Maybe someone read my post.

John is a thoughtful and passionate tester.  He managed to hold our attention for 3 hours!  Here are the highlights from my notes:

  • The human brain can store 3TBs of information; This is only 1 millionth of the new information released on the internet every day.
  • Over stimulation leads to mental illness.
  • John showed us a picture and asked what we saw.  We saw a tree, flowers, the sun, etc.  Then John told us the picture was randomly generated. The point?  People see patterns even when they don’t exist.  Presumably to make sense out of information overload.
  • Don’t tell your testing stories with numbers.  “A statistician drowned while crossing a river with an average depth of 3 feet”; Isn’t that like, “99 percent of my tests passed”?
  • Don’t be a tester that waits until testing “is done” to communicate the results.  Communicate the test results you collected today?  I love this and plan to blog about it.
  • Testers, stop following the same routines.  Try doing something different.  You might end up discovering new information.
  • Testers, stop hiding what you do.  Get better at transparency and explaining your testing.  Put your tests on a public wiki.
  • Critical thinking takes practice.  It is a skill.
  • “The Pause”. Huh?  Really?  So?  Great critical thinking model explained in brief here.
  • A model for skepticism.  FiLCHeRS.
  • If you challenge someone’s view, be aware of respecting it.
  • Ways to deal with information overload:
    • Slow down.
    • Don’t over commit.
    • Don’t fear mistakes.  But do learn from them.  This is how children learn.  Play.
    • (Testing specific)  Make your testing commitments short so you can throw them away without losing much.  Don’t write some elaborate test that takes a week to write because it just might turn out to be the wrong test.
    • You spend a 3rd of your life at work.  Figure out how to enjoy work.
  • John led us through a series of group activities including the following:
    • Playing Disruptus to practice creative thinking.  (i.e., playing Scamper.)
    • Playing Story War to practice bug advocacy.
    • Determining if the 5 test phases (Documentation, Planning, Execution, Analysis, Reporting) each use Creative Thinking or Critical thinking.
  • Books John referenced that I would like to read:
    • The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver
    • Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
    • You are Not So Smart – David McRaney

At this week’s metric themed Atlanta Scrum User’s Group meetup, I asked the audience if they knew of any metrics (that could not be gamed) that could trigger rewards for development teams.  The reaction was as if I had just praised Planned Parenthood at a Pro-life rally…everyone talking over each other to convince me I was wrong to even ask.

The facilitator later rewarded me with a door prize for the most controversial question.  What?

Maybe my development team and I are on a different planet than the Agile-istas I encountered last night.  Because we are currently doing what I proposed, and it doesn’t appear to be causing any harm.

Currently, if 135 story points are delivered in the prior month AND no showstopper production bugs were discovered, everyone on the team gets a free half-day-off to use as they see fit.  We’ve achieved it twice in the past year.  The most enthusiastic part of each retrospective is to observe the prior months metrics and determine if we reached our “stretch goal”.  It’s…fun.  Let me repeat that.  It’s actually fun to reward yourself for extraordinary work.

Last night’s question was part of a quest I’ve been on to find a better reward trigger.  Throughput and Quality is what we were aiming for.  And I think we’ve gotten close.  I would like to find a better metric than Velocity, however, because story point estimation is fuzzy.  If I could easily measure “customer delight”, I would.

At the meeting, I learned about the Class of Service metric.  And I’m mulling over the idea of suggesting a “Dev Forward” % stretch goal for a given time period.

But what is this nerve I keep touching about rewards for good work?

On weekends, when I perform an extraordinary task around the house like getting up on the roof to repair a leak, fixing an electrical issue, constructing built-in furniture to solve a space problem, finishing a particularly large batch of “Thank You” cards, or whatever…I like to reward myself with a beer, buying a new power tool, relaxing in front of the TV, taking a long hot shower, etc.

Rewards rock.  What’s wrong with treating ourselves at work too?

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