Change

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Last week I talked about how features can sometimes be bugs.  If this is true it means that in all likelihood at least some of your product’s features are bugs and should be removed. This week I want to think about what you as a tester might be able to do about it. We sometimes have trouble convincing people that the bugs we find are actually bugs and now I’m saying we need to convince people that features are bugs?!? How in the world are we supposed to be able to do that?

I could go ahead and give you a lot of ‘do this or do that’ advice, but before we go too far down that path, let me try rephrasing the question.  “How do I convince someone to do some particular thing I see as important.”  Take away the details of the specific thing you are trying to convince someone of and we are left with something that (encouragingly) we have a lot of experience with and (maybe discouragingly) is often very hard to do.  The task here is, at one level, no different than the task of convincing someone that the bug you just found is important.

However, I don’t want to gloss over one big difficulty here and that difficulty is something we could call cultural bias.  Probably in your company (if it is anything like mine) you have a cultural bias towards having more features – that’s what makes us money right? – and so what you are trying to convince people of here is not just that something you all agree is important (fixing a bug) should be done.  What you are trying to do in this case is to convince people that what they believe to be true actually isn’t.  If you’ve been a human for a while or if you pay any attention to politics, you have probably come to realize that this is very hard to do.

Just because something is hard doesn’t mean we should give up on it, but we should be realistic about it.  This will take time, and will be a slow bumpy road.  We should also take lessons from what we see going on in the world around us.  When we see religious and political groups jousting with each other, whatever else we learn, let’s take note that yelling at each other is not the way to change someone’s mind.  As cliche as it sounds, minds are changed through relationships.

If you try to force people to do something they aren’t ready for or don’t see the need of you aren’t going to get to far.  If, however, you have built a relationship and the other party can trust you, you will find that others will give you a chance to explain yourself and will listen to what you have to say.  If they truly believe that you are looking out for their best interests they will be open to listen to and consider what you have to say.  Without a meaningful relationship it is going to be hard to change much of anything.  So look to those that have influence.  Seek them out and see how they  build real meaningful (not manipulative what-can-I-get-out-of-it) relationships. Gently advocate for the positive changes that you think need to happen.  Be ready to listen to and learn from others.  Be patient and stick with it, and over time you will see things change.  As others have said, it is sometimes surprising how little change happens in a year, but also how much can happen in a decade.  Sometimes when we are looking for a quick fix to our problem we just keep chasing after the latest rainbows and unicorns fad, and we don’t end up getting anywhere.  Some things just take good old fashioned work.  Stick with it.  Change the world (says the writer to himself). 

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