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Adoption of continuous testing in DevOps and Agile cultures

The best way to engender continuous testing in DevOps shops? Take the lead. Here's how testers can create change and align disparate goals for organizations.

It takes an all-encompassing cultural shift to realize continuous testing in DevOps and Agile teams. All team members must understand and embrace responsibility for quality, but testers -- the champions of quality -- should lead this transformation. Rely not on technical skills to encourage continuous testing in DevOps teams, but rather on leadership skills, specifically communication, collaboration and creativity.

DevOps and Agile call for communication up, down and across the company. Testers collaborate with multiple, diverse groups to achieve organizational goals and take a visible role in QA. They also foster alignment with the business's objectives and goals. Testers are creative and innovative when they resolve issues and assess applications' quality. These are power skills for testers, and they can be the key to continuous testing in Agile and DevOps teams.

Talk to me

Communication is difficult. What we say and how another person interprets it can be completely different. Remember that telephone game where a little story is told from one person to the next and, by the time it gets to the last person, it's a totally different story? Although technology has opened new communication channels, it has actually increased the complexity of sharing information in our own telephone game.

Mobile devices have fundamentally changed the ways in which we communicate -- and not for the better. The best way to be visible and provide a clear, consistent message to all stakeholders is by talking directly to them. Testers, lead by example: Put away electronic devices during meetings, and take time for conversation, especially for offshore team members.

Work with me

Have you ever been in a meeting where someone suggests an idea and others build on it? That's the power of collaboration. As testers, in order to lead, we must be visible to all of our stakeholders -- not just our own teams. Through collaboration, goals align. Scope creep is often an issue in projects, throwing off deadlines and expectations. Scope creep tends to result from misalignment of objectives. To meet the rapid iteration schedules of DevOps and Agile organizations, ensure everyone is working under the same scope.

Transparent metrics are a way to increase testers' visibility and align everyone's scope. With data coming in from many disparate tracking applications, transparent metrics are difficult to create. However, with a focus on these metrics, you can enable continuous testing.

Create with me

When we lead through collaboration, we foster creativity and innovation. It isn't easy.

Usually, when a team meets to discuss a problem, they look at how they handled similar situations in the past. We segregate ideas and limit our ability to think out of the box. True innovation comes from the intersection of ideas, where concepts and options from seemingly disparate fields of study merge. Within every group, there will be people with dissimilar interests or expertise from the others. This diversity increases the intersections exponentially.

Assembling many seemingly unrelated ideas is the easy part; the more complicated part is finding relationships between those ideas. To do that, lower the barriers that narrow your focus. In particular, this means associative barriers.

Think with me

We look for relationships between different things, but we often segregate our thinking. The more we associate similar things, the less we create, according to Frans Johansson, entrepreneur and author of The Medici Effect. When we associate seemingly unrelated things, we enable intersectional innovation. We lower associative barriers through managing biases and mindsets.

Biases are the snap judgments that we make based on what we assume to be true. They narrow our thought processes. For example, if we believe that we can only test if requirements are done, then it will be difficult to find ways to test without them. A cultural shift toward continuous testing requires all team members to assess their own biases and actively manage them.

Mindset is the framework from which we approach problems and challenges. Carol Dweck, Stanford University professor and researcher on motivation, identified two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. People with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence comes from what a person is born with, whereas people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is developed. Team members with fixed mindsets are less likely to embrace the concept of taking responsibility for quality that is required of a DevOps or Agile environment. People with a growth mindset are better innovators, willing to risk failure as they explore new ideas.

By understanding the mindsets and biases of team members, as well as ourselves, we can begin to foster a cultural shift toward continuous testing in DevOps, where everyone on the team is responsible for quality. Focus on demonstrating exemplary communication, collaboration and creativity to champion the quality process in your organization, and the technical test process will be the easy part of the transformation.

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