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Methodoligst vs. Terrorist

Do you know the joke? “What’s the difference between a methodologist and a terrorist? Well, you can negotiate with a terrorist.”. It was perhaps more true for terrorists of the 20th century than those of the 21th, but you get the point. We met a “methodologist” the other day and that gave me the impulse to write this blog.

Huge projects, especially those delivered by external vendors on customer sites usually need more formality and more of a methodical approach than tiny projects delivered internally within a company. It still keeps me surprising, when a  testing specialist (even though on a huge project) demands people to have a single common answer on questions like: What is a test case? or What is included in a Test Plan? or What do testers do, when analysts define functional requirements? There isn’t a single correct answer to these. For example, a test case is defined differently in terms of JUnit, differently at various departments of high tech companies like Oracle and differently at the Glossary of ISTQB.

Unless the person has an extra objective with the question (maybe provoking a discussion among testing peers), it is a sign of the person’s thinking being narrowed to a specific context and often a sign of their maturity in testing leaving something to be desired. E.g. narrowed to the context of a specific company, where the person (although experienced) spent all his professional career within the company and her/his view being limited to that experience.

I couldn’t thank enough the context-driven community for promoting human capabilities over lexical knowledge in testing. I enjoyed and recommend reading the book Lessons Learned in Software Testing by James Bach, Cem Kaner and Bret Pettichord. It’s a collection of QA wisdom that sheds light on testing from various angles.

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