Unsurprisingly, I am a huge fan of the West Wing and like many of television’s best productions, if you look hard enough you can find many lessons to learn from the shows.
This particular quote – and title of this blog – occurs in a few episodes along the way but it appears first in the season finale of the first season as President Bartlett is delivering a speech encouraging those present to get involved in politics and if they don’t vote they really do not have a reason to complain or question how things are done.
The quote itself has no actual attribution provenance but it doesn’t take away anything from its meaning.
Decisions are made by those who show up
So what does this have to do with software testing? Well, how many times have you not been invited to a crucial meeting about the design of a product? How many times have you seen the senior developers and the architects get together with the business leaders / project managers and discuss requirements of a product? How many times have people been in a room discussing a product that you, frankly, are in a much better position to have an opinion on as you have been testing it for much longer than they’ve even known about it?
It happens and from my experience it happens mostly to testers. Traditionally, testing is seen as a post-development activity. After-all, what possible use can a tester have if there isn’t even any software yet to test?
It amazes me to think back on it now but at some points in my career I fell for this trap and ultimately made the decision that since I wasn’t actually invited to the meeting, I didn’t really have any reason to be in the meeting. Wrong. That’s my call to make now.
What I’m getting at here is that by not being in the room, not being in the meeting or not being present at a discussion, you are missing valuable opportunities for your opinion to be heard and ultimately influence the future of the software. Surely that isn’t your fault, though, after-all you weren’t invited. Well, stop being a pussy. Invite yourself. If you’re testing a product you have every right to be in the room when initial decisions are made.
Decisions are made by those who show up. Whatever you do, make sure you show up.