Wednesday 10 November 2010

Let's exchange testers.

I went to school in Sydney, Australia where we had a student exchange. A student (it was probably a couple rather than just one) from another school and country would swap with a student from our school. I imagine this is done throughout Australia and throughout the world but as far as I know it stops after high school. Why?

I didn't take part but I imagine it to be richly rewarding, experiencing a different cultural, a different school, different people, different foods, I could go on.

Can you imagine the possibilities if this continued in the workplace? If you could take your own personal knowledge and experience as well as your organisation's and share it? And at the same time learn from other people and an organisation?

Just a random thought that was going through my head.


  1. Hi Tony,

    I'd asked my company about doing this about a year back. Allowing me to go to another company for a week to gain experience of their working practices. The only thing preventing this for us was the legality of it, we weren't to sure about this aspect.

    Certainly though it's an excellent idea. If you or anyone else for that matter want to explore the idea, get in touch with me ( & we'll see if it's possible to exchange testers.



  2. Hi Tony,

    Very good thought!
    In Sweden there are legality issues that could prevent this, but I guess that all it would take is ambition and attitude really to make it happen.

    Need to consider this when entering my new company in a couple of weeks...

    Henrik Emilsson

  3. I think this is way people enjoy going to conferences as you can have a glimpse of that for a few hours.
    The Weekend testing experience is probably even closer as you not only talk about testing but actually do it, then (imagine a hippy-style, smoke-enhanced voice) "share the experience".

  4. Playing Devil's Advocate here, but some companies see their staff and the knowledge they possess as the thing that separates that company from the competition.

    By sharing knowledge, you would be diluting your USP a little.

    And what if the exchange you receive is not what they claim to be - how would your boss feel if he loaned out his prize asset and for a poor imitation in return?

    I guess, if this were ever to succeed, there would need to be some way of vetting (& rating) potential candidates to ensure everyone benefits out ofthe experience.

    Steven Hedley

  5. @Darren, excellent, I think this could be something we could explore a little further, maybe something through STC, organisations willing to give it a go.

    @Henrik, congrats on the new role! I'm sure there would be plenty of issues, internal policy, legal stuff, insurance, etc. I hope though that there are some organisations that would see the benefit.

    @Thomas, exactly, WT and confs. are great for that but it's like dipping your toe in the pool, it'd be great if we could jump in.

    @Steven, totally agree however I also think that if somebody received a poor imitation it'd be a good learning experience for all.
    You also wouldn't necessarily have to go to a company that is competition.

  6. Steven,
    I think starting to rate testers to see if you got "value" out of the exchanged tester isn't really what it's about. If your tester comes back with a lot of good ideas the week of having a poor tester (whatever that means in context) might well be worth it. How do we define worth here?

    Tony / Steven,
    the problem I see is that most people would like to get people who know the domain and more often than not these would then come from competitors.

  7. @Thomas it is not defining 'worth' per se, more a case of setting expectation of what you would gain from having that individual join your ranks for a period.

    Ex: 'X' has worked on many Agile projects as a tester, we are relatively uninformed in this area hence we think we could benefit from an exchange.

    I think the issue here could be, the respective companies would look to employ these exchangees in their field of expertise so as to learn from them.

    The associated risk is that said exchangee would not get much exposure to anything 'new' and therefore not gain a lot...unless as part of the exchange conditions it was agreed that after a predetermined amount of time, the exchangee could work with the other company in an area they would like to learn more about.

    So your Agile expert could spend 2 months sharing his knowledge to your team(s) and in return he gets to spend 1 month working with your test automation team (for example).

  8. Thomas highlights a good point in my mind. Do we have to learn anything from it that we can take back?

    I think myself I learn a lot from teaching others, discussing & writing about techniques I’ve tried. This highlights the pro's & con's of these to myself. Something I might have done once or twice I'll do more often after a discussion with someone about it. Why? I may not have realized or explored the benefits of it prior to my discussion.

    Much like testing multiple threads explode in our heads about things we can test, often it's hard to keep up & we'll find ourselves at some point trying to recall a good idea we’ve threaded but didn't have time to explore, that time has come & we've forgotten it. The same benefit can be gained from discussion about what we do with each other, you’ll see these threads popping off in different directions in your mind, and you’ll explore new ways of using that technique.

    Even if the person at the other end doesn't contribute anything, by talking about it you'll probably learn more about this yourself from exploring the idea as you're discussed it.

  9. I offered to lend me and my test group to another company if they assisted us in the future.

    Sadly, their test manager didn't like the thought.

    I would gladly do this again as a way to educate and exchange ideas.

    So, if you are interested let me know.

    Martin Jansson

  10. I'm quite excited that people have already tried to do things like this. There's gotta be a way to get it happening.

  11. I tried to do this inside a large company without much success. Too much politics.

    Would be great to try something like this somehow though. Smaller companies maybe? I'm interested.

  12. Awesome, Adam has this happening: