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CAST 2009: Understanding how much responsibility a testing team should have

For the previous three years, I was either an organizer of the Conference for the Association for Software Testing (CAST) or the President of the AST. So as you can imagine, I watched the conference closely. Last year, when we were able to announce Jerry Weinberg as the keynote speaker it was a great feeling.

At CAST 2008 Weinberg offered a tutorial that sold out so fast we had to add another day to the conference. This year Weinberg will again be offering a tutorial at CAST. The topic is “Ensuring Testing’s Proper Place in the Organization.”

Jerry Weinberg is easily one of the most influential people in my practice as a software tester and consultant. For the last 50 years, Weinberg has worked on transforming software organizations. For example, in 1958, he formed the world’s first group of specialized software testers.

Weinberg is author or co-author of may articles and books, including “The Psychology of Computer Programming” and the 4-volume “Quality Software Management” series. He is perhaps best known for his training of software leaders, including the Amplifying Your Effectiveness (AYE) conference and the Problem Solving Leadership (PSL) workshop.

In this year’s tutorial, Weinberg will help attendees demonstrate the value of testing vs. the cost; teach them how to find the points of influence in the organization, and how to cope with them; work with them on communicate with executives; and will help them to better evaluate risk and make it real.

When asked, Weinberg said that the tutorial is focused on “addressing the problem of testing being given too much, too little, or the wrong kind of responsibility. The tutorial will address this problem at the individual, test team, organizational, and societal level.”

At last year’s conference, Weinberg launched his latest book, “Perfect Software and Other Testing Myths.” When asked how much interplay there might be between the book and his tutorial, he responded:

Certainly much of the misplacement of testing starts with the common myths and misunderstandings about testing, so, yes, there is quite a bit of interplay. However, reading the book is not a prerequisite to participating in the tutorial, because all professional testers are well acquainted with these myths and misunderstandings. What they may not understand is how these myths and misunderstandings are contributing to the low esteem in which testing is commonly held–and what they personally can do to achieve their proper role.

When asked how this tutorial built on, or extend, some of the other work he’s done in the past, Weinberg responded: “I’m trying to correct the impression from much writing that ‘Development is Everything; Testing is Nothing.’ Or, even, that ‘Development would be easy if it weren’t for Testing.'”

Given the variety of places Weinberg could deliver this message, including much larger venues, I asked him why he chose to give the tutorial at CAST.

“The people who attend. I was at CAST last year in Toronto, and found it to be a cut above your typical conference (almost on a par with our own AYE conference). I learn at CAST, and I enjoy CAST. That’s why I believe it’s the right place for me to be, teaching and learning.”

For those unfamiliar with AYE, or Amplifying Your Effectiveness, you can learn more about it at their website. For more on the upcoming show, check out the CAST conference website. For more on Jerry Weinberg – his works, conferences, and to interact with him – check out his website and blogs on the topics of consulting and writing. While you’re at it, if you haven’t already taken a look at the new book “Perfect Software and Other Testing Myths” I highly recommend it.

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