So this weekend, I'm a directors meeting for the Association for Software Testing
in sunny Madison, Wisconsin.
During breakfast, I am talking to Lynn McKee
and Cem Kaner
about the one-day tutorial
that I am doing with Pete Walen
at STPCon. I was somewhat excited; I was speaking quickly and my hands were waving this way and that.
When I finally took a chance to breathe, Cem and Lynn spoke up.
They had concerns. Perhaps concerns is too strong a word. They
certainly had other issues and perspectives, ones I hadn't covered the
five-minutes I took to summarizes a one-day tutorial.
At first, I'll admit it, my feathers were a bit ruffled. I mean, here I
was, presenting them this diamond-like Jewel I was worked so hard on,
and they were tearing it apart before my eyes.
Gosh. It's as if they were testers, and this was a piece of software!
Oh wait. Right.
Then I realized something. Yes, there was a fair bit of criticism
happening here, but it was good criticism. Pete and I could use this to
make our presentation better
In some ways, your critics are your best friends
-- because only the critics make suggestions that can lead to improvement. Yes-Men don't.
Which leads me to an important point: Who are you surrounding yourself with?
Another friend of mine, Chris McMahon, is fond of the expression "If you
are the best player in the band, you are in the wrong band", for
similar reasons. (More extreme version of the same line is "Be The Worst
If you are the best, and you don't have someone pushing you, and you don't have someone to emulate, you likely aren't growing.
In this business, growing is important.
As I reflect back on that weekend, I am pleased -- and impressed -- to
have friends who push me to do the best work I can possibly do. Pete
and I might accept their criticism and change something major; we might
tweak something minor. We might not even change the tutorial at all.
The thing is, Cem and Lynn gave us things to think about.
I've spent far too many years of my career working in environments where
everyone wanted to be the best, where saving face was so important that
no one could admit they made a mistake or had room for improvement. It
was no fun, change was glacial, and the competition was always nipping
at our heels.
Maybe it we'd have sped up a little faster, the competition wouldn't have been so close behind.
It's okay to experiment. It's okay to try.
If you aren't at the front of the pack, you can learn from the people
that are. (On a related note, if you don't want to develop certain
skills, it's okay to find people who can help you compensate for where
you lack. You get points for that.)
All that said ...
What about you?
Are you at the front of your pack?
Do you surround yourself with people who will help you grow?
Are you learning and improving?
Are you learning and improving fast enough?
And if the answer to any of those last three questions is no ... what are you going to do about it?
More to come.