Are you a testing asshole?

The No Asshole Rule
Image via Wikipedia

This week, I’ve been reading the book, “The No Asshole Rule:  Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn’t” by Dr. Robert Sutton. For the past few months, I’ve been working at building a relationship of trust with the developers whose code I test. As part of that, I’ve been exploring the divide that often happens between developers and testers. It’s so easy to have an antagonistic relationship and to forget that instead of placing focus on us vs. them (and I’m talking from either side) it should be more important to think about the “we” of the software team. The end goal is, after all, to get the software out the door.

I plan on writing more about this, but for now, I wanted to share a few bits from this quiz in the “No Asshole” book. I took this quiz, and it told me that I am not an asshole (my sister might not have the same opinion). It got more interesting when I decided to reframe it. I substituted all of the pronouns “other” and the word “people” with  the word “devs.” The quiz, then, took on a completely different meaning. I’m not posting the whole quiz because the book is worth reading so I hope you’ll find at your local library or purchase it. There is, alas, no kindle version. Hopefully, Dr. Sutton will get hip like Jerry Weinberg who has begun selling kindle versions of his some of his books.

There are 2 versions here, a tester one and a dev one, although the tester rings more true to me than the dev one. Feel free to share results.

If you are a tester, write down true or false for your answers:

1. You secretly enjoy watching devs suffer and squirm

2. You have a small list of dev friends and a long list of dev enemies. You are secretly proud of both.

3. You enjoy lobbing “innocent” comments into meetings that serve no purpose other than to humiliate or cause discomfort to the dev on the receiving end.

4. You don’t make mistakes.  When something goes wrong, you always find some dev to blame.

5. Devs keep responding to your email with hostile reactions, which often escalate into “flame-wars.”

6. Devs always seem to react to your arrival by announcing that they have to leave.

If you are a dev, write down true or false for your answers:

1. You secretly enjoy watching testers suffer and squirm

2. You have a small list of tester friends and a long list of tester enemies. You are secretly proud of both.

3. You enjoy lobbing “innocent” comments into meetings that serve no purpose other than to humiliate or cause discomfort to the tester on the receiving end.

4. You don’t make mistakes.  When something goes wrong, you always find some tester to blame.

5. Testers keep responding to your email with hostile reactions, which often escalate into “flame-wars.”

6. Testers always seem to react to your arrival by announcing that they have to leave.

The Extremely Unscientific Scoring:

0-2:  Not an asshole

3-5: Borderline asshole

6: Certified Asshole

Perhaps the lesson here is that it’s important to keep “we” in mind instead of “us” vs. “them.”   This means being less concerned with our job title and more concerned with using our best skills to get the software out the door.

Enhanced by Zemanta

10 thoughts on “Are you a testing asshole?”

  1. Hmm, the only one that I couldn’t fully answer with “False” was:

    5. Devs keep responding to your email with hostile reactions, which often escalate into “flame-wars.”

    It doesn’t happen often, but I have seen an occasional email-flame-war occur. As far as I can tell, I don’t ignite them intentionally. And I certainly don’t enjoy it when it happens.

    BTW, is there really a Certification for this? Study guides? 40-question, multiple-choice exams? I’m picturing “completed Certification in Foundation Level Test Assholery” on someone’s resume…

    ;-)

  2. I love that post, espiacially as I changed my personal life guideline to “use common sense and don’t be an asshole” a few months back :)

    If only others would always stick to this ;)

    Markus

  3. I need this book! Last year I blogged about how much nicer it is if we’re all civil to each other, and some people had an uncivil response to my post. I’m proud to not be an asshole.

  4. With all of the focus on “bullies” in the media lately, it has become more acceptable to approach assholes in the workplace, so long as you do it right. By right, I mean talk to them alone first, explain how you feel and specifically, ask them to stop. For me it was hard to do that. Once I did, it didn’t stop. I was able to then speak with my boss, explain calmly the steps I’d taken, and after that it stopped. Some people respond to nothing except someone with more power than they have. I try to remember, with true assholes, the longer they can make you uncomfortable, the better for them.

    I think this book is a bit biased towards Male a-hole behavior. The backstabbing sneaky passive aggressive female a-hole behavior is less obvious, but includes stuff like blackballing people, harming careers, and also blaming others for their mistakes. I’ve worked with both, and frankly, I prefer the male behavior. At least it is more obvious and easier to resolve.

  5. Thanks for the comments!

    @Joe I’m sure there’s money to be made there, got a business plan? ;)

    @LIsa & Lanette
    I’m sorry y’all had a bad experience. It’s tough to face up to this kind of thing, and there are people who do lack the capability to be anything other than an asshole. It’s been pointed out to me that the kryptonite for that type of person is daylight, meaning exposure. Blogging about it and talking about it to someone who can make it stop are wise moves.

    As I said, I don’t think I’m done with this topic. It makes me glad that the post has resonated with others. :)

  6. Lanette makes an interesting point. From my years in the bar business, I can confirm that conflict between males is very different than conflict between females. Of course, bar fights are an extreme example, but I wonder if there is something here that could be generalized to apply to a work situation.

    When men fight, there is almost always lots of posturing and shouting and squaring off before anyone throws a punch. This gives others lots of time to intervene (which is probably what the combatants are hoping for anyway).

    A catfight is the worst. There is never any warning, just all of sudden there are a couple of women on the ground trying to claw each others’ eyeballs out. It’s a dangerous situation for everyone in the vicinity.

  7. There are probably many different ways to categorize asshole behavior (such as tester vs. dev), and to an extent, I would expect the asshole behavior to vary among cultures as well. Perhaps I didn’t notice a bias because I expect anything to do with business will, by default, be biased towards men. I do think the author does a good job of boiling the behavior down to basics. There were a lot of questions in the “asshole test” that reminded me of women I’ve known just as much as men.

  8. “6. Devs always seem to react to your arrival by announcing that they have to leave.”

    Does that mean the room, the company, or the industry? Because I’ve had developers choose other careers after I’ve come along.

  9. Interesting.

    I’m fortunate to have worked as a developer for 6 years before becoming a tester.

    I sometimes joke with developers that my job isn’t to make them look bad by finding defects, but to make them look good when it ships.

    Having been a developer, I try and put myself in their shoes and treat them with the respect I expect myself. I really do see us as having different roles but on the same team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *