Friday, September 26, 2014

Professional Testers Manifesto?

Around the same time that the #stop29119 campaign was being organized by the Context Driven Testing school of thought, a Professional Testers Manifesto was issued by the same school via Karen Johnson's blog post titled My Thoughts on Testing Certifications.

Below is the manifesto's text in its entirety.

I, as a professional software tester, believe:
That standards compliance is no substitute for knowledge and skills, and that possessing a certificate demonstrates neither.
That companies have been convinced that only certified testers should be hired.
That organizations who use certification as a surrogate for rigorous selection processes place the quality of their testing at risk.
That organizations who make money from creating or promoting standards and certifications are biased in their thinking by the potential financial rewards of convincing organizations that only certified testers are professional testers. Those organizations may include those who sell training, consulting or other related services.
That testing benefits from diversity and not homogeneity: that testing is not a profession that can be standardized but instead needs to remain an intellectual professional activity.
That choosing not to be certified does not mean I do not take my profession seriously. It is because I take my profession seriously that I choose not to be certified.

As soon as I read the first two sentences, I knew that this manifesto did not resonate with me. As I read on it became apparent that this was a continuation of the #stop29119 campaign, extended to certifications and training. It is basically a set of sentences that concentrate on discrediting as well as bashing the current certificate programs and their bearers.

I was expecting to find, in this manifesto, a call to unity. A call to our sense of pride and professionalism that all testers, from all schools (and even the free-thinking ones that don't choose a school) can feel proud in signing. Instead what I found was yet another list of complaints against the standards and certification folks. And that, I don't subscribe to.

 Below is my reply to each point in the manifesto. My responses are in italics.

1. I as a professional software tester, believe:
A. I find this interesting. Because this can be taken many ways, depending on perspective. But my main gripe is why is the word 'professional' included here? Are there testers that are not professionals? Do I have to sign the manifesto to be considered a professional?

2. That standards compliance is no substitute for knowledge and skills, and that possessing a certificate demonstrates neither.
A. Why do I have to declare this? Is this not known my folks in our profession already? And if not, how many do  not know? The answer is that we do not know the answer. So one cannot assume that people do not know this already.

3. That companies have been convinced that only certified testers should be hired.
A. Really? I've worked at many companies that never even heard  of classes (ISBT, RST, etc) and courses let alone of a certificate. How can we assert that companies have been convinced of this?

4. That organizations who use certification as a surrogate for rigorous selection processes place the quality of their testing at risk.
 A. Again, why do we have to declare this? An argument can be made that companies that don't know any better can be biased by a certificate and probably no one can refute this. However, this does not invalidate courses that end up in certification.

5. That organizations who make money from creating or promoting standards and certifications are biased in their thinking by the potential financial rewards of convincing organizations that only certified testers are professional testers. Those organizations may include those who sell training, consulting or other related services.
A.  Of course a company that promotes standards and certifications would be biased in their telling their customers that they should hire certified testers. Just like the folks against certifications (mainly the CDT school) are biased in their telling their customers that they should hire CDT school of thought testers and not certified testers.
 
6. That testing benefits from diversity and not homogeneity: that testing is not a profession that can be standardized but instead needs to remain an intellectual professional activity.
A. This echoes the stop29119 campaign. Tell me, fellow testers, how many of you do not know that testing benefits from diversity? Even if the manifesto is aimed at non-testers (i.e. managers, hr, etc) we're talking about common sense. Any human understands this concept intuitively as well.


7. That choosing not to be certified does not mean I do not take my profession seriously. It is because I take my profession seriously that I choose not to be certified.
A. This statement implies that the folks that are certified do not take their profession seriously. Is this the message we want to convey?

I find the Professional Testers Manifesto not to be inline with my values nor with my mission as a tester. I see it as another attempt to further polarize a community of very talented testers and engineers; and this does not serve any of us in the end. Why should we have to choose a side? There are many of us that do not feel threatened by standards nor certifications. There are many of us that view these courses the manifesto is speaking of (whether they lead to a certification or not) to be valuable source of  information, skills, and knowledge. Another weapon in your arsenal of test tools. Another perspective, if you will. This manifesto that claimed to be for all testers, IMO, really should have been called the Context Driven School of Thought Professional Testers Manifesto.

I am a professional tester and for the reasons given above, I abstained from signing the Professional Testers Manifesto.

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