Perhaps it’s just the nature of the tester, but I’ve seen a lot of complaints from testers recently. “Managers do the wrong thing”, “Testers need to do more ‘x’”, “Testing isn’t taken seriously”, “These people don’t understand what I do”, gripe, mumble, etc. Of course, it’s easy for me to tell you to quit your griping and fix it (in fact, I’m sure I’ve done that in previous posts), but solving problems is much bigger than that.
Let’s say, for example, that you want to make a change in your organization (I’ll leave the exercise on how to change the world) for another post. Just for fun, let’s say you would like to do a lot more Exploratory Testing in your organization (bad joke removed – should have picked a different example).
What do you do first?
The number one answer I expect (and I’m usually right) is that you need to convince management that ET is great (or that you should do more of it), and they’ll make a top down decree, and everything will be unicorns and rainbows(tm).
Management is one faction, but there are more. What if the rest of the testers on the team don’t see the value in ET? What if they don’t know how to do it? What if your customer demands that you only deliver automation results (or something else silly). What other factions can you identify? You need to think about everyone with an interest in the results – then take time to understand where they’re coming from and how the change impacts they’re thinking. With any change, you have gains and losses. What do you gain by doing more ET (note: also define “more”). What do you potentially lose by doing more ET? Top down edicts rarely work, so if you want a chance of success, don’t start there. Identify your factions, and come up with a strategy for working with each of them.
The important thing to remember is that you don’t change the process, you change the people. If you don’t think about how change impacts people, you will probably fail. Whenever I’m dealing with a performance gap, the six boxes model helps me think about how change happens.
Environmental and Team Factors
Expectations and Feedback
· Roles and performance expectations are defined; employees are given relevant feedback.
· Work is linked to business goals.
· Performance management system guides employee performance and development.
Tools and Processes
· Materials, tools and time needed to do the job are present.
· Processes and procedures are clearly defined and enhance individual performance.
· Work environment contributes to improved performance.
Consequences and Incentives
· Financial and non-financial incentives are present
· Measurement and reward systems reinforce positive performance.
· Overall work environment is positive, employees believe they have an opportunity to succeed; career development opportunities are present.
Knowledge and Skills
· Employees have the necessary knowledge, experience and skills to do desired behaviors.
· Employees are cross-trained to understand each other’s roles.
· Employees have the ability to learn and do what is needed to perform successfully.
· Employees are recruited and selected to match the realities of the work situation.
· Motives of employees are aligned with the work.
· Employees desire to perform the required jobs.
The six boxes model (sort of based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) is a model to help think about all of the factors that go into change.
Box 1 is where management can help. Defining the expectations and feedback loop for the change helps people understand what they need to do.
Box 2 pertains to tools (e.g. sysinternals.com tools), and resources (including computers, a quiet place to work, etc.).
Box 3 is where most change efforts fall short. This is the “what’s in it for me” category. Prizes, bonuses and other material rewards fall into this category, but it can also (and often more effectively) be some other type of reward. The points awarded on xbox live or on stackoverflow are a form of box 3 reward. Done really well, box 3 can be satisfied by making the job more fun and interesting, and creating higher quality software.
Box 4 deals with the skill gap. For our example, it is the plan for how to teach or demonstrate necessary skills for ET, and may include instruction, reading material, coaching, etc.
Box 5 is about the people on the job. Are they capable of carrying out the necessary tasks? If not, you probably won’t be successful.
Box 6 is dependent on the other boxes. Binder says that if the other boxes are positive then this one is positive. My view on box 6 is that box 6 is free will – and you don’t mess with free will. Sure – keep box 6 in mind, but don’t f with it.
Now that you’ve thought of your factions, and mapped out the human element of the change, you’re just about ready to go. Before you start, remind yourself that while you have a plan, and you’ve anticipated as much as you can, things will change. You need to adjust your plan (revisit the motivations of your factions, examine your six boxes evaluation as you learn more information – hey – this sounds like “exploratory leadership)). Organizational change is often a moving target and being ready for that will help you be successful.
If all of this sounds like too much work, there’s always plan b – quit and go shopping.