A funny thing happened the other day.  I overheard some “sophisticated” city-dwelling folks talking about farming.  To be more accurate, it was a group of folks from one of the “more affluent” suburbs of the city I live in.  The kids were a little uncomfortable with their surrounding, a small-town eatery that had opened a really nice “deck” by a river.  This was in a really rural area catering to farmers and their families.  The deck was clearly a “let your hair down” establishment for young folks, farmers kids and younger farm hands to enjoy a cool beverage.  It was also a short drive off the expressway, which is how they, and we, landed there.

So, the lady-wife and I were observing the to-and-fro of the regulars and these self-same sophisticated folks.  One of the women made a comment that made me blink.  “People talk about farming as if it is so hard.  I don’t know what they are talking about.  You’ve seen my garden, that is some work, but really, how much more work can that be than my garden?”

The lady-wife’s eyes looked like saucers (she’s a Master Gardener and regularly says she’s glad to not be a farmer).  For me, I was not surprised.  I was reminded of comments I’ve heard other people make like “Its just testing!  How hard can that be!” 

To be fair, I’ve also heard testers say things like “Why don’t the developers get it right so we don’t find stupid mistakes like this?”

You see, it strikes me that some folks simply don’t get it.  Whatever “it” is, they just don’t get. 

Here’s what I mean.  You’ve all heard that “a little knowledge is dangerous,” right?  If you have a small amount of experience with a tiny portion of what someone else does for a living, there is a tendency to extrapolate that experience to being what those who do this for a living do. 

Many of us testers have run into the developer or project manager or some other manager type who sputters about how much time testers take and how can it possibly take “that long” to test – That it doesn’t add anything and just slows the project down and you can get it done faster if you just…

What comes after that varies, but you get the idea, right?

Kind of troubling for those of us whose profession and craft is “just testing.”  No? 

Then why do we say the same thing about developers?  (See? I’m being polite.)  A lot of times I’ll say something like “software program code writers” since there are far more folks in “software development” than those who write the code.  Yes, I know.  I’m not nice sometimes.  Yeah, sometimes I yank chains.  At the same time, there are many, many more people in software development than the people called “developers.” 

I know, I’m kind of off in the weeds. 

But not really. 

When one group sets themselves or their craft above the skills of others as more sophisticated, challenging, difficult, advanced, whatever, it becomes easy to take the next step and raise yourself a notch or two over those who work with you, but are in the “lesser-skilled” trades and crafts.

I’ve done Project Management and Business Analysis.  I’ve done programming (which at the time I started working in software included design and requirements gathering and communicating with business users.)  I’m doing testing now.  I’ve dabbled in DB stuff – enough to know I’d not be a good DBA – no passion or patience for it. 

I do not understand how people can look down on others in a difference craft.  All of them take specific skills, training, focus and discipline.  To do them well, each of them are demanding and challenging and at the same time, they very rewarding. 

There are a lot of instances where you see this mindset – something is easy to master because you can get the basics in 10 or 15 minutes.  Learning to apply them is the hard part.  Learning to master them takes longer.  Just exactly how hard is it to do anything? 

Want to find out? Try it.  If you are a tester without development experience, try learning a programming language then try writing a simple program.  Then test it.  How many bugs did you find?  If you have some development experience, try your hand at project management – at least get a bit of training then try to apply that training at work.  Let’s see what happens. 

If you dabble a little bit, or took a course in college X years ago, you’re an expert, right?  Maybe the little exercise above will help you understand a tad more.  How hard can anything really be? 

After all, it is just testing, right?  How hard is that?