Monday, December 01, 2008

The Sports Secret to Building Software Testing Skills

Every once in a while, I'll run across an airline magazine article that really catches my attention. Yesterday on my way to Harrisburg on Continental, I read this article about how collegiate and professional sports stars improve their skills. I couldn't help but think of all the parallels to many of the concepts I teach in my Becoming an Influential Test Team Leader tutorial. Namely:

1) To improve a skill, you must focus on it like a laser beam. Improvement often occurs a little bit at a time (painfully slow at times), but then sometimes you have a breakthrough moment.

2) You must be willing to move out of your comfort zone to improve. Don't just work on your strengths, but also your weaknesses. Actually, I teach becoming exceptional in your strong areas and not to worry too much about the weak points. While I still believe in this philosophy, I also believe that we can all work on our weaknesses to become more well-rounded.

3) A good coach is willing to place a player in a position to fail so they will learn and improve. The player must also have the mindset that failing is an essential part of improvement.

Here's a quote I liked in the article from Steve Bzomowski, a former NBA scout and founder of Never Too Late Basketball Camps: “Pros take themselves seriously. And even though recreational players aren’t going to become pros, there’s no reason for them not to take themselves seriously. We’re always preaching, ‘Respect the game.’ So when you don’t run the court, you’re not respecting the game. Play the game right.”

So, testers, take heart. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Practice on both, remembering it's OK to try things and fail - if you learn and improve.

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