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James Bach - The buccaneer tester

Most people who are in the Software Test and QA industry know who James Bach is. He’s an outspoken rapscallion and makes no apologies about it. In fact, he’s proud of it.  In this morning’s keynote, Bach told us about what it means to be a “buccaneer tester.”

“Challenge the system,” says Bach. His motto, whether he’s talking about rigor in exploratory testing or teaching what is meant to be a buccaneer tester, is to think. Don’t just mindlessly follow authority and do something because it’s the way it’s always been done.

Listening to Bach is very entertaining.  He’s funny, dynamic and energetic in his descriptions of his experiences and his advice to go against the norm.  I especially like it when he goes into his “authority figure” voice, showing how an authority figure might demand that we follow rules in a way which would makes us obsolete.

“You might think there’s a council of elders who gets to decide who’s an expert,” Bach said. He reminded us continually that we set our own path. Find what makes us unique and valuable, he said.  If we only follow checklists or best practices without questioning the norms, we are no better than computers or robots. We need to use our brains, our experience, our knowledge to bring unique value to our jobs.

Bach advised: “Find the mix of interests and talents that makes you have what no one else has. Take stock of this and find a story that makes you important and special.”

Bach described three resumes he’d received. Two of them were full of buzzwords. When asked about them,  the candidates clearly did not know much about the meaning of those words. The third resume was simple in language; but when interviewed, the candidate showed an energy and understanding that was impressive. He was the one, of course, who was hired.

Bach talked about the difference he sees in people that demonstrate passion and question themselves and others — people who don’t just blindly accept what others say, but who go out of their way to dig deeper than the surface and earn a reputation for a person who is continually learning and growing. He specifically called out Lanette Creamer as an example of a person who was making a name for herself by living by these values of questioning the norm. You can read more about Lanette Creamer’s work in two article, Test-driven testing face-off: Waterfall vs. Agile and Testers debate differences between Agile and waterfall test automation.

Check out what James Bach had to say about STAREast and being a buccaneer tester in this video.

For more STAREast coverage, check out these links:
James Bach – The buccaneer tester
STAREast keynotes: Continuous integration and documentation in Agile
STAREast: Is your software development organization agile?

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