Mahmoud, the developer, asks Steve, the tester, why is he finding so many bugs in his source code.
The company makes a point of bringing in the best and the brightest. They go to all of the best schools and recruit. Every year a new college graduate is brought in and his career gets that jump start it needs to excel in his (or her) field. This is a story about this year’s recruit.
[Efenji]: I have a problem.
[Tyler]: Nothing, what’s your problem?
[Efenji]: I have to submit a document and it has to be reviewed by my peers.
[Efenji]: The document is already late.
[Tyler]: How do you mean?
[Efenji]: It was due 8 weeks ago.
[Tyler]: Okay, but you were just hired.
[Efenji]: I have missed my first deadline. I finished my yearly review and then I was told that my peer review document was late.
[Tyler]: What do you mean you finished your yearly review? You were hired two weeks before Christmas and then left over the break to go to your graduation ceremony.
[Efenji]: Yes, and then I was told to complete my yearly review.
[Tyler]: That’s silly. You’ve been here just shy of a month. If anything, your manager might want a status report.
[Efenji]: It was my manager who asked for my yearly review. He said it is my “brag sheet.” It is going to be reviewed by a tribunal that weighs my accomplishments against my peers. If I come out at the bottom I am going to be drowned.
[Tyler]: I’m not sure what you mean.
[Efenji]: I was told the person with the least accomplishments is irradiated with infrared and placed in a pool.
[Tyler]: Okay, I understand your misunderstanding, now. Someone is not giving you the whole story. You’ve just been hired, so there is no expectation that you compare to your peers. I’m sure it is just paperwork that states every employee must do this.
[Efenji]: Okay, but what about my document for peer review. It is late. This most certainly reflects poorly on my performance review.
[Tyler]: When was it due?
[Efenji]: November 30th.
[Tyler]: What was your first day?
[Efenji]: December 1st.
[Tyler]: So by this reasoning, as of your first day, you already missed your deadline?
[Tyler]: What division hired you?
[Efenji]: The microwave division. I was to be working with a senior engineer on wireless power transmission.
[Tyler]: And the document for peer review is about this?
[Tyler]: I am confused. What do you mean no?
[Efenji]: During the time in which I returned to my school for my graduation ceremony, the microwave power division was dissolved. I am now required to write the test plan for the software being developed that solves D ‘Alembert’s paradox in fluid dynamics.
[Tyler]: Fluid dynamics? You were a top recruit from your school and have just received your master’s degree. I read your thesis in advanced microwave power transmission and I’ll admit it was beyond me. Why would they assign you to work on something you have no special knowledge of?
[Efenji]: I do not know, but my test plan is now over a month late. I need to write it and get peer review.
[Tyler]: Jeez, okay. Well, what do you know about fluid dynamics?
[Efenji]: Not a lot. I brought up the page from Wikipedia and I looked up D ‘Alembert.
[Tyler]: Sure, but that’s not going to be enough, right?
[Efenji]: No, but when I asked the software developer about the requirements, he told me he would have to get back to me.
[Tyler]: And did he?
[Efenji]: Yes, but his email was cryptic.
[Tyler]: How so?
[Efenji]: The subject was “Requirement Specifications” and the body of the email said, “Here.”
[Efenji]: There was an attached spreadsheet.
[Tyler]: And what was cryptic about that?
[Efenji]: I was unable to read it.
[Tyler]: Was it encrypted?
[Efenji]: No, it was empty.
[Tyler]: What, I don’t understand. You were sent a blank requirements document?
[Efenji]: How am I supposed to write a test plan for the component I am responsible for if I do not know what it does? And I don’t know what any of the requirements are?
[Tyler]: I am at a loss…
[Efenji]: The test plan document is late for peer review and I will have the worst review and be drowned!
Tyler watches as Efenji runs away on the verge of tears. He wonders back to his cube and as he sits down to read his email, he sees Efenji plummet past the window. As their lab was eleven floors high, chances for Efenji’s survival are slim.
The test team meets in a conference room for their weekly staff meeting.
[TEST LEAD]: We can’t find any viable candidates for the tester position we have open.
[TEST MANAGER]: I can’t believe that with the high unemployment as it is these days.
[TEST LEAD]: It’s true. We haven’t received a single application.
[TEST MANAGER]: Not one?
[TEST LEAD]: Not one.
[TEST MANAGER]: Is there something wrong with how we are wording the job description?
[TESTER]: I don’t think so. It’s just that most people don’t want to work in validation.
[TEST MANAGER]: I tell you what. I’m always interested in finding creative solutions to tough problems. I will give a ten thousand dollar bonus to any person in this room who can hire someone for this job.
John, who is also in the meeting, thinks to himself. I could really use that money. Suddenly, he gets an imaginative idea.
[JOHN]: Can I take the rest of the day off? I have some personal things that I need to attend to.
[TEST MANAGER]: Sure. No problem. Just update your work calendar.
The scene changes to a penitentiary. It’s almost midnight. A prisoner, priest, guard, warden, and John are walking together on the green path that leads to the room containing ‘Old Sparky’, the electric chair.
“Dead man walking”, yells one of the prisoners peering from his cell.
[JOHN]: Is that what they say to a man who is about to be executed?
[WARDEN]: No. That’s what they say when they see a tester, such as yourself, walk by.
Another inmate taunts, “Here chicken, chicken, chicken…brawkk-AWK”
[JOHN]: I’m not going to ask what that means.
[GUARD]: Yeah, it’s best you don’t.
[JOHN]: Listen Warden. It’s not that bad. I love my job as a tester.
[WARDEN]: So you want me to call the governor and tell him that you are willing to give this condemn man a job in lieu of the death penalty. Do you realize all of the evils this man has committed in his life?
[JOHN]: Please, call the governor. Let him decide this man’s fate.
The warden calls the governor on the red phone near the electric chair. He hands the receiver to John. John gives his proposal to the governor. The governor thinks for a bit then agrees.
[GOVERNOR]: Ok. I’m a man who believes in second chances. Let me talk to the prisoner first since he needs to decide for himself whether he wants to stay on the road to perdition or start a lucrative career in testing.
John hands the phone to the prisoner who then talks to the governor for a few minutes. Tears of joy are flowing from the prisoner’s eyes as he looks at John. The prisoner then gives the phone to the warden. The warden nods his head in agreement.
[WARDEN]: I fully understand, Governor, and will carry out your orders as prescribed.
The warden hangs up the phone. He tells the guard that the execution will proceed as normal. A hood is placed over the prisoner’s head and the priest begins to administer last rites. An astonished John asks the prisoner why he refused the job offer. The prisoner’s muffled voice is heard from under the hood.
[PRISONER]: I know that I am an evil man who is destined to live in hell for all of eternity, but hell has no fury like a job in testing.
Empathetically, John nods his head. The prisoner asks John to hold his hand for comfort. John does. The executioner pulls the switch and all of the lights in the penitentiary begin to flicker. A yellow canary bird is heard singing from a nearby barred window. Even in the dark, it knows that the sun will soon rise again to a better world. Later the test manager is heard saying, “Damn, now I have to hire two people.”
[BILL]: Why can’t I ever get promoted in this place? I do everything they want me to do. I sacrifice; I work long hours; I always deliver, but I never receive. It’s not fair! What am I doing wrong?
[TEST LEAD]: It’s our company policy that you’re promoted based upon how well you compare with other testers on the team and not so much individually.
[BILL]: What does that mean?
[TEST LEAD]: Testers are like movie actors. Testers want a promotion and actors want an Oscar. Both prizes are determined by a group of people who meet in secret to decide the winner.
[BILL]: Is there a formula?
[TEST LEAD]: Well, let’s just say that you will never hear the words, “Tonight’s award goes to Bill because he spent more overtime than the other testers.”
[BILL]: That’s true, but I was taught that working hard to produce the best results is what I need to succeed.
[TEST LEAD]: It’s not like that. You can work 24/7 among the best directors, producers, special effects…hell; you can even have Shakespeare write your screenplay, but none of these things will guarantee you the prize.
[BILL]: So you’re saying that there really isn’t anything that I can do.
[TEST LEAD]: Not entirely true. You need to set yourself apart from the others, something that they will remember you by. You need to take some kind of risk.
[BILL]: What do you suggest?
[TEST LEAD]: Taboo love scenes. That’s what getting awards in Hollywood these days and that’s what’s going to get you that promotion next year.
A year passes by and Bill submits his personal performance review along with a video of him and a donkey he picked up in Tijuana. The managers are impressed and Bill is finally promoted.