20 things I’ve done to inspire testers

Clarification: I don’t know if these *actually* inspired testers that have worked for me, but I have indicators to believe that they seem to have built good will.

1) Help them midwife their ideas.

2) Catch them doing something cool.

3) Be an example (as in Parimala’s blog about looking for a book).

4) Pretend you’re the new guy and ask them for tips and advice.

5) Tell them your failures and invite them to suggest what you could have done differently.

6) Find a way to “Dogfood” the app you’re testing — to not just pretend to be a user, but find a way they would actually use it themselves.

7) Ask them what movies or actors inspire them, then care about the answer.

8- Solve one problem for them OR allow them to solve one problem for you.

9) Back them up in a conflict they had with management.

10) Demonstrate testing to them but show your thinking (mistakes, assumptions, etc.) as you test.

11) Have them email someone in our business like Michael Bolton or Lanette Creamer, who have good ideas and love responding to honest questions from colleagues.

12) Pretend that the developer forbade them to test something and see what they would do about that.

13) Have a friendly competition of who can find the best bug or create a flash mob for them to share their ideas or borrow from others (the #parkcalc one last month is a good example).

14) Have them go to a testing conference but be sure to hang out with other testers AFTER the conference day is done.

15) Allow them a safe space to fail, but also to show their smarts.

16) Invite them to give YOU a brainteaser or puzzle that YOU have to solve in front of them.

17) Pretend that you are shipping tomorrow and see what they would do about it at a time when management may think “we found everything”.

18) Encourage them to participate in a Weekend Tester session, and if they’re shy, just have them lurk.

19) Take an existing bug and don’t tell them what it is, but have them try to reproduce it by pairing up with someone.

20) Remind them of other metaphors — like how testers are heroes like the Secret Service, Men in Black, bodyguards, or crime scene detectives.


3 Responses to “20 things I’ve done to inspire testers”

  1. phil kirkham Says:

    Nice list – I think I can tick off half of those, thanks for the tips about the other 10

    Being a moderator of the Software Testing Club I always recommend that 🙂

    If I find defects that testers have missed I’ll send them some hints to see if they can find it then I’ll explain how I found it

  2. Lanette Says:

    I think the top thing that you do isn’t on the list. You assume the best and believe in people. You can see what they could become if they continue to improve, and you see the effort they are making, not just the mistakes. It is that perspective that makes these more than tests.

    What is the difference between trying to trip someone like a bully to keep them “on their toes” or trying to embarrass them in public and inspiring new testers? It is about intent. It is about style. It is about the criteria for success and the price of entry.

    I’ve been trying to figure out why I like your style of teaching. It isn’t the actual “thing” you did, but it is the spirit in which you do it. You don’t put yourself above starting testers no matter their experience or skill level. You help them by being with them next to them in that moment. It is a safe place to learn. Hopefully some people will read this comment and get that it isn’t a list of exact things to follow, but an attitude they can adopt that will help people grow. Instead of using pressure or threats and intimidation/competition to force them to grow, you can remind people and help them discover what they are good at and help them grow. Part of that is giving them room to grow by making sure you aren’t hovering or standing in their light. The tactics you list here are like fertilizer, but you can sabotage this just by standing in the way.

  3. Inspiring Testers « Ryan' s Bits Says:

    […] good ideas and looking at problems in different ways. Jon Bach has a great post on his blog titled 20 things I’ve done to inspire testers. I found many of these ideas interesting and I don’t think I would have thought of most of […]

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