A few days ago, I began a verbal exploration of testers who code and coders who test. That post provides some context for today’s continuation, so if you have a moment, go ahead and check it out.
OK – I know you didn’t read it (or you read it already), so I’ll give you the summary. There are coders, testers, coders who test, testers who code, and many variations in between. If it’s good for a coder to have some test knowledge, it certainly can’t hurt to have some knowledge of code if you’re a tester. My contrived exercises asked you to consider what mix of testing and coding knowledge you’d pick when staffing a team. The spectrum of awareness and infusion of coding and testing skills looks a bit like this:
But that’s not (as some of you pointed out) the full picture. I know fantastic testers with tons of experience and the ability to find the the most important issues quickly and efficiently – but they’re jerks (and that’s putting it nicely). It doesn’t matter how awesome you are, if you’re a horrible teammate, I don’t care.
it’s been 35 years or so since I played any paper based role playing games, but when I did, we had these “character sheets” where we kept track of our characters stats and experience. Something like that would give a lot better picture of the full picture of a good software developer.
It’s not perfect, but it helps to see the big picture (and I’ll be the first to admit, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to measure people on a scale like this) – but as a leader, you can certainly consider the type of people you want on your team. You can’t just hire the first code-monkey (or “breaker”) you find and expect to have all of your problems solved. When I make hiring decisions, those decisions are based an itty-bitty bit on whether the candidate can do the job, quite a bit more on how they will fit in with the team, and a whole lot on how well I think they’ll be able to help the team months and years down the line.
And with that, the intro to this blog post has turned into an interlude, so I’ll wrap this up later this week. Great discussion so far (in comments, twitter, and email) – please keep it up.