A (respected and bright) fellow commenting on the last blog post, the one that a fair number seemed to think was a “kick in the seat”  (well, really it was intended to) wrote this:

You’re a Jr Test Consultant trying to learn your trade.
You have a daughter to look after, travel expenses, rent to pay
You’re assigned to a gov project run by one of the big boys that used to sponsor The Tiger and things are done Their Way.
Your working with their testers who are churning out the factory scripts overseen by managers who are expecting exactly that.
You know it sucks, you know it’s a massive waste, you go home feeling your soul has been sucked dry.
What’s your advice ?

Well, dear respected colleague (and anyone else reading this) I have thought about your question.  I have thought on this a fair amount. 

The thing is, I’ve lived that.  I know how frustrating that is.  I know how scary that can be.  Scary?  No, more like terrifying.

There is a certain cold fear in the thought that if you speak out or make waves or argue too much or whatever, you get fired.  You can’t take care of your family or pay the car note or the mortgage or rent or presents for the spouse or kids or… any of that stuff.

If that idea does not give you a certain period of pause, you might be independently wealthy,  have no responsibilities beyond yourself or, well, you just don’t care about the future. There may be something else at work.  There may be some ideas that I have not considered.  Or, maybe you just don’t care.

That is the problem, isn’t it? 

When we are looking at stuff we know simply does not work, or process models we find abhorrent and dealing with stuff that is more make-work than work, more “best practices” than anything else, doing more dealing with stage gates than staging releases, what do we do? 

After all, who do we think we are, right?  All the bosses tell us that this is what is needed and what we need to do.  Still, things don’t seem quite right.  We ask questions and are promptly dismissed.

The thing is, we can ask questions.  We can think for ourselves.  We can read and we can search.  We can find others we can learn from.  We can talk with people and gain ideas and learn from them.  Some things will lead us to ideas we can use, others we can set aside either permanently or saved for future use.

Most importantly, we can experiment.

Finally, we can ask the question that is the beginning of the change that needs to be made.  We can ask if the work that is being done is really improving the software we are working on.  We can ask if there might be a better way than what seems to be what is in place.

There may be other things that can be done.  Indeed, I’d be surprised if there were not.  However, I  prefer to write from my experience.  This is also partly how I landed where I am now.  So, be careful if you start this journey. 

You may find yourself remaking your corner of the world.