The Build-A-Tester Workshop

By Jesper Lindholt Ottosen

The Testing Planet and the Software Testing Club previously introduced various tester types in the eBook “Tester Types” (1). Types like ”The Enforcer”, ”The Explorer”, ”The Checklister”, ”The Sage” and many others. It’s a good way to have a smile and recognize some behaviors in your group.

The Psychological “Myers-Briggs Type Indicators” (2) can similarly be used to recognize personality behaviors. It consists of 16 different types, usually identified by a 4-letter code (see Fact box MBTI). In an article on ReadWriteWeb (3) David Strom suggested “Testing” your code with MBTI – that is, analyse the MBTI type of your company/team and then reposition yourself to a team with the same MBTI type: “Ideally, your personality and that of your shop should match on all four metrics. If not, then you might consider finding another company or another job within the company that will more closely match your personality. Alternatively, you might consider ways you can alter your shop’s personality to bring it more closely in line with your own.”

I disagree that it is a good idea find a company/group that matches your own style. Although you might find initial engagement and strengths in a team of like-minded people – the team with the right mix of types for the context has the best options and is likely to be more successful. Said in other words a team consisting of only one ”type” would be good at only a few things and not so good in the rest. For example, they might be good at coming up with ideas, but not so good at implementing, etc. In the end the single skill team withers due to the very nature of being single-minded.

Research in the Belbin Team roles (4) (Fact Box Belbin) clearly show shows “that each of the behaviours were essential in getting the team successfully from start to finish. The key was balance.” Some skills are more applicable than others (in context) – some are well covered in a team and others under-represented. Lesser applied skills even emerge and prosper if the team mix is in need of it. To me “software testing is a skill of many skills” (5) and it’s important to be aware of the mix of roles within the team; to tune it to the context.

A small social game of Build-A-Tester can be used in a team to open the discussion, less formally than with Belbin and MBTI checklists. The Software Testing Club “Testing Types” can be used – I have used Custom LEGO™ minifigures® (6) on two occasions to open up a discussion on what traits a “favorite software tester” might have (see next page).
I’d suggest discussing to what extent the “imagined” traits are good for the mini-figure to use in software testing, and what is not so good to use. It is a good discussion as it will also reveal the team culture and context. Close the Build-A-Tester workshop by building the favorite tester(s) for the team with the pieces available – and what other LEGO bricks can be found in the office (I have some).

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Author Profile – Jesper Lindholt Ottosen

Jesper Lindholt Ottosen is a senior test manager with CSC Denmark. He has 10 years experience of test management in large scale telecommunication enterprise environments. Jesper blogs internally in CSC on testing topics and was a guest blogger for EuroStar2010. Jesper tweets as @jlottosen. Jesper is an adult fan of LEGO and a senior test manager at CSC in Denmark. You can find him on Twitter and Google+ writing about software test and LEGO. This is fan art and not authorized by LEGO® or CSC.

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2 Responses to “The Build-A-Tester Workshop”

  1. ChrisJune 12, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    An interesting point about Myers-Briggs is given in the link you gave, from here:

    Onwards. Turns out it may be unreliable or even false.

    From Fortune magazine:

    “…One problem is that it displays what statisticians call low “test-retest reliability.” So if you retake the test after only a five-week gap, there’s around a 50% chance that you will fall into a different personality category compared to the first time you took the test.”

  2. Jesper L. OttosenJune 12, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Every model is fail-able and MBTI, Belbin and STC “Tester Types” even so. But the thing is that the models allow us to discuss and learn about differences. As does the minifigures allow us to play with the roles and expectations.

    More workshop examples with LEGO: