Category: professional development

Total 14 Posts

Carl Robinson’s Five Fatal Flaws – How to derail your career

I have subscribed to Carl Robinson’s (Advanced Leadership Consulting) newsletter for some time. I was cleaning up some items and came across the newsletter from August 2007 with an article entitled "Five Fatal Flaws – How to derail your career". An online version of this article can be found at

Carl lists the five fatal flaws as:

  1. Inability to learn from mistakes
  2. Lack of core interpersonal skills and competencies
  3. Lack of openness to new or different ideas
  4. Lack of accountability
  5. Lack of initiative

I believe this list is spot on…


12 Point Style Guide for Quality (Technical) Professionals

In the October 2010 Quality Progress, there is an article by Burjor Mehta entitled "Word Power". In this article, Mehta gives 12 points for quality professionals to improve their communications in writing. I think these points are applicable for most technical people. For the details, please see the article. For convenience, the 12 points are:

  1. Use words with positive connotations
  2. Always look on the bright side
  3. Say what you want, not what you don’t
  4. Be brief and to the point
  5. Use consistent terms
  6. Use consistent formats
  7. Use white space
  8. Be specific
  9. Underpromise and overdeliver
  10. Don’t use jargon or clichés
  11. Use complete words and sentences
  12. Use "I" to ask and "you" to give – Is there a good tester certification?

The following is my response to a question on the now-defunct The question was "Is there a good tester certification?" and my answer:

Good for whom?

This tends to be a loaded question with almost religious fervor. Several industry notables have come out strongly against certifications. James Bach posted his objections in a compelling argument. It is a good place to start for the anti-certification argument.

Good for Employers?

As a hiring manager, I have only seen people with certifications listed on their resumes a couple of times. It was an indication that perhaps these individuals are taking an interest in their careers more than just a job. Did the certification sway my opinion of the applicants? No. Just a minor data point.

Good for the Tester?

I do think there can be good from getting a certification for the tester. However, that good does not come from getting the paper that says they are certified. The good comes from reviewing the requirements for the certification, identifying gaps in one’s knowledge, deciding whether it would be good to fill in that gap – it might not, and learning something new so it can be applied to the day to day job.

Good for the Certification Body?

Almost definitely. The certification body gains strength with the number of people who get certified. There have been examples of certifications which are really a mechanism to sell training. It is important to look at the certification body and what their motives are. What is good for the certification body is not necessarily good for the tester nor for an employer.

What is one to do?

First – look at what the certification covers:

Second – Where are you strong? Where are you weak? Are the weaknesses areas where improvement will help you personally and professionally?

Third – Identify for learning and how to fill in the gaps you care about.

Fourth – Decide whether the certification has meaning to you. For some people, working towards the certification is the motivation they need to fill in the gaps.

In any case, if you can speak to the various points covered in a certification and can provide real world example where you have applied the areas of knowledge, you will be able to convince an employer you know your stuff.


Great Resource for Testing Podcasts

I listen to a lot of podcasts. Between my bus commute, errands and going to the gym, I have lots of time I can spend listening. I recently came across the site The site is an aggregation of various podcasts that deal with software testing. Sometimes they are podcasts I already subscribe to. Others are podcasts I would not want to listen to every episode but a particular episode might be interesting. They are all here.

I was a little puzzled finding the RSS link – it actually was in a logical place, I was just missing it. The RSS feed link is


The Lean Startup – Eric Ries

I have worked most of my career at startups. Some have been successful, others failures. This may explain my interest whenever I see something about startups. I am very interested in how others experience line up with mine. I recently came across a slideshow by Eric Ries entitled The Lean Startup.

There are a couple of items I particularly liked:

  • The comment that a startup "has nothing to do with the size of the company"
  • Speed wins – decrease time between major iterations
  • Minimize total time through the following loop: Ideas -> Build (Code) -> Measure (Data) -> Learn -> More Ideas
  • Five Whys Root Cause Analysis


Michael Gerber’s 10 Pillars of Small Business Success

I am reading Michael Gerber’s Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: How Ordinary People Can Create Extraordinary Companies. I don’t buy his whole premise. However, I did think the “10 Pillars of Small Business Success” in chapter 13 are worth thinking about:

  1. All businesses require vision.
  2. All visions are both personal and impersonal.
  3. Every company is an organization of people, relationships, functions, a flow that can be charted.
  4. An organization is an organization of systems. All systems merge into one system.
  5. There is no such thing as customer service, only commitment.
  6. Master money, and everyone in your business must master money.
  7. Your people are not your business. Your business is its own reality.
  8. Your business is an idea.
  9. You know more about your business than anyone else.
  10. A business must mean something.


Testing and December 2009 MSDN Magazine

Even if you are not working on the Microsoft platform, the December 2009 MSDN Magazine has some articles which can be of use to all testers.

In particular, Pairwise Testing with QICT by James McCaffrey provides enough insight into the QICT tool that it can be easily ported to any platform. While Automated Unit Tests for Legacy Code with Pex by Nikhil Sachdeva is specific to Microsoft technologies, Pex is a tool that all testers should become familiar. Finally, Using Agile Techniques to Pay Back Technical Debt by David Laribee has tips that are useful to most test organizations.


Demise of Paper Based Test (Technical) Literature

I commute by bus. I have been doing this for over 9 years. Every work day, I have time set aside where I can read, listen to podcasts, unwind, etc. However, over the last few years, the amount of test (and more generally – technical) literature I can read on the bus has declined. Some have simply gone away (Software Development). Others have converted to an online only presence (InfoWorld). Some no longer provide paper editions to those subscribers who receive copies based on professional qualifications (Better Software). In addition, more and more of the test related content is only available in blogs or other online forums.

Overall, I like online content. It is easier to find items at a later time. Unfortunately, I find that I do not read as carefully/thoroughly when I read something online. I am now purposely trying to read professional development material online with more focus — but it is an effort. Who knows what other changes are ahead of us.


Jason Fried of 37Signals – Business of Software 2008

One of the things I love is being able to see presentations from conferences I was unable to attend. A coworker passed on a link to this video (55 minutes) from the Business of Software conference. In the talk, Jason Fried of 37Signals, makes of Ruby on Rails and Basecamp, speaks on many aspects of running a software company and keeping teams working effectively.

Here are some of the slide titles, topics and items Jason discussed:

  • Planning is vastly overrated – no roadmaps, specifications, projections. Get rid of distractions. Functional specification does not reflect reality and leads to an illusion of agreement.
  • Decisions are temporary – optimize for now
  • Red flag words – need, can’t, easy, everybody, nobody. These are the words that cause projects to be late
  • Interruption is the enemy of productivity – the closer the team is physically, the less you get done. Interruption is not collaboration. A fragmented day is not a productive day.
  • Underdoing – target non-consumption
  • Find the right size – imagine the software as a physical item
  • Follow the chefs – what is your cookbook?
  • Always be questioning – Why are we doing this? What problem are we solving? Is this actually useful? Are we adding value? Will this change behavior? Is there an easier way?
  • Give up on hard problems – there is an abundance of easy problems
  • You’re an editor – Curate your product. Say no to more things than you say yes.
  • Work Less
  • Q&A – Starts 28 minutes into the video

An enjoyable video, especially the first half before the Q&A session.