SpeakEasy: Thoughts: 3 things that bug me about “Agile Testing”

Sculpture made out of electronic waste at Eden project 2015



I re-started my speakeasy journey this month and in my conversation with Mark he just asked me to speak for 3 minutes on a topic. This was also part of re-living a bit of my fear of getting something wrong and feeling like an imposter. Who am I to have an opinion and one that people may want to hear about?


Mark made the talk easy by asking me something that I cannot get wrong as it was based on my opinion, still I panicked and stalled. This meant we digressed a little bit while I was trying to calm my nerves.


What he asked me was to tell him the three things that I do not like or agree with to do with Agile Testing.


Initially I was taken aback and stalled the conversation while trying to get my thoughts in order. In a way this is a skill itself, but should be practiced less like a deer in headlights, which is definitely what I did.


After I finished stalling I moved the conversation back to the three things that bug me and I surprised myself a little bit as well.


  1. The actual term “agile”. When you look it up it means to move quickly and easily. In terms of project management especially in the software world, this is rather subjective in my opinion. What is fast and easy for one team means something completely different for another, even within the same company! I think the term is misused and misunderstood. It also seems to appear in a lot of different industries now and I feel the actual philosophy behind agile testing has gone missing. By this I am referring to the manifesto which states “people over processes” etc. The incarnations of Agile Software Development I have seen have a lot of process and not so much focus on the people.
  2. Agile vs Context driven debate. I hate the fact that when we use agile as a term or definition of a process, that it is assumed you are the enemy of another school of thought. At the end of the day I see it like this: We are all aiming to do useful and valuable testing and we should encourage rational debates between ourselves, so we can learn from each other rather than segregate ourselves and shut each other out. I simply do not understand this. I would like to think I do testing in my day job, and I do not care what prefix you want to add in front of it “agile, context driven, exploratory, etc.” Maybe I am being naive here though.
  3. Automate all the things. Some people I have come across in my journey as a tester, have equated agile testing with automating all the things! They forget that manual testing is still a valuable process and that automation testing is a check rather than a test. A machine can only look for what you tell it to and it cannot think outside of the box. As a side note, if you manage to catch Richard Bradshaw speak at an event he currently has a great presentation about the pitfalls of automating All.The.Things.


So these were the three things I told Mark about. It wasn’t as scary as I thought to state my opinion. It is my opinion after all and it cannot be wrong per se, but it could be disagreed with. And I think I need to make that shift in thinking. it is not wrong, but someone else may think differently and I know I wouldn’t judge them on that.
Of course these statements can be elaborated on and expanded to make a better argument, but that is another technique I need to explore.

Next stop is facilitating a workshop and some learning at work.
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