The Quality Activist Manifesto – Fighting Ignorance and Attacking Risk in Software Development

I’ve been describing myself as a Quality Activist for some years now, and thought it was about time I set down some principles of how I work.

The language may be strong, but the intent is hopefully very clear – that by smashing the image of the “wallflower tester” we help our teams build better software, by bringing a punk attitude to the conventions of software we make our users’ lives better, and by refusing to accept a “Dev Jr” designation in the process but instead demonstrating the wide and varied value of the tester role we demonstrate the increasing relevance and importance of quality focused individuals in software development.

The Quality Activist Manifesto

We fight for the user, and believe in the fundamental importance of software quality in our users’ lives.

We defy process and convention in pursuit of software which satisfies both the needs and desires of our users.

We destroy problems as soon as possible, before they have a chance of ruining our users’ day.

We believe that by exposing doubt, smashing silos and throwing ourselves into the unknown, we drive teams to make better decisions.

We are dedicated to destroying ignorance, attacking risk, championing awareness and kicking down doors in pursuit of satisfied users.

Activism is the best adjective I have to describe the role of the passionate, empowered and self-confident tester, actively promoting quality-mindedness in their teams (and environment) and refusing to accept information at face value. Activism is about changing attitudes, affecting cultural or societal change in some sense. The change I perceive is acknowledging the detrimental affect of bad code on user’s lives, seriously recognising the value in making smarter decisions to benefit a customer.

In the context of software development, this change is long overdue. For too long we’ve expected users to swallow solutions to their problems they have no hand in designing. We assume that how we use our software internally within the dev team reflects real world usage. We view the PO as the enemy, always desperate to release the software whatever the state of quality. The implication is testers getting closer to customers, building an interested and truly cross-functional quality focus in their teams – testers, QAs, Quality Activists belong at the forefront of this new wave.

Quality Activism is also an internal process of questioning, confronting and challenging our own beliefs and biases in pursuit of truly “good” software. It questions our ethics, our laziness, our annoyance at the challenges of some tests or the draw of relying on old information. It encourages us to build a team which respects quality as a true measure of success, to build a team which takes responsibility for its own pursuit of satisfied users, which cares about more than just “points done” or “stories shipped” in favour of “value delivered”.

I have no doubt I’ll be tinkering with and modifying this manifesto in the weeks and months to come, but this starts the discussion. Do you recognise the role of activism in the work of a tester? Does anything here ring true? And what does Quality Activism mean to you?

2 thoughts on “The Quality Activist Manifesto – Fighting Ignorance and Attacking Risk in Software Development

  1. Timely post, I needed this. I’ve made it to a point in my career where I’m speaking up more about risks and issues because I feel like I have nothing to lose doing so. Please keep us updated on how this manifesto grows and morphs.

    Liked by 1 person

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