The Three Commitments to what you do

three commitments to achieve results

Harvest what you sow

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later

In my recent posts, I talk about protecting your time and understanding that multi-tasking is a lie. This piece of writing will talk about the the three commitments everyone must take in order to achieve results.

First, you must assume the mentality of a student seeking mastery. Mastery is the commitment to becoming your best, so to achieve results you must accept that there needs to be massive effort that excellence needs. Second, you must seek the best way of doing things. Nothing is more madenning than doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. There is no use in becoming efficient at what you are doing, when you are not doing the right thing. It is more important to be effective and do things that matter than do something really good that does not matter. Last, accept ownership of everything that happens. If you feel responsible for everything that happens to you, you will get off your normal routine to try to change this. One of the biggest mistakes of a person in a team is to adopt a “It wasn’t my responsibility” mentality, when that person could have intervened.

Follow these, and you stand a really good chance to be the very best that no one ever was.

Student seeking Mastery

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

In 1993, Anders Ericsson published “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” in the journal Psychological Review. As the benchmark for understanding mastery, he debunked that extraordinary people were naturally gifted. His research found that deliberate practice over the course of years in elite performers made them elite in their fields. Many of these performers complete their journey in 10 years, do the maths and work on it four hours a day - if you are working 8 hours a day, you’ll have it mastered in 5.  Time spent on what you are trying to master is correlated with hours invested. Michaelangelo once said “If the people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderfull at al”. What he talks about is completely obvious to us all, and we still talk to ourselves saying “Wow, that’s too hard”.  In my previous post, I talked about blocking your time, dedicate those 4 hours a day to testing and you will become a master.

When you are testing, you follow instructions from your test manager. Understand that following instructions won’t get you to mastery any more than trying to get to the moon with a car. Testing is science, it is about learning: Take things apart, question how they work, question why they work in that way, put them together in different ways, get a second opinion.

Do Not Restrict yourself to being a steward of what you have been taught, APPLY what you know.

Early in my career as a tester, and I’m sure it applies to you too, you have reinvented test plans, ideas, techniques and documents. To be honest, at the time they weren’t that good, and that’s completely acceptable. Don’t settle for what you already have, there’s always something to be improved.

Many testers have been testing for years now, and they are still reinventing and reworking old ideas. Keep at it.

Seek the best way of doing things

Earlier in my career, I often got asked “Are you doing this in the best way you can do it or are you doing this in the best way it can be done?”. I did not know what this meant and this question confused me alot. Similar to the way that a programmer’s offer different technical solutions to tackle a business problem, the same way can be done for testing.

The Path to mastering something is the combination of not only doing the best you can do at it, but also doing it the best it can be done

Highly productive people don’t accept the limitations of the natural approach as the final word on their success. What I mean by this is - Why should you be happy that a buggy product will be released? People argue that it is not the tester’s job to assure quality, that it is not the tester’s job to get bugs fixed and that it’s up to the others but I think that’s wrong.  In my previous post, I described turning your report into a quality offer - I found my bugs not getting fixed and I fight for them to get fixed.

So you’ve decided to fight for your bug report, now you’ve also decided to WIN. There is no point in coming into a fight with the mentality that you are going to lose. What is the point?

Here are a few points to consider when you are trying to get a bug fixed

  • Are there any sales demonstrations needed for this part of the product? Notify your sales team and they will push for the bug to get fixed. Bugs in the platform shown in demo costs sales.
  • How does this issue drive up the cost of the documentation? Notify your customer success team to give you written support and how it’s going to affect them. 
  • Check the press for discussions of problems like the one you’re reporting. One of your competitors might have shipped the product with a similar bug. If it showed up in any news report, that is strong evidence that it could be taken seriously. Here is an important case, that I use all the time - consider the laws in your country and the users. For example, in the United Kingdom, it is illegal to discriminate people with disabilities.

The principle is that you have to keep on improving and you need to be persuasive. Even if you don’t win every battle (and if you think you are then you are wrong), you should develop a reputation and a mentality of winning.

Take ownership

If you do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve gotten

There is a connection between what you do and what you get. Action is far better than planning. Be accountable not only for what you do, but also for what happens around you. Without being accountable for what you’ve done, you’ll never figure out how to break the your plateau of doing the same thing again with finding a better way of doing things.

When life happens, you can either be the author of your life or a victim. Understand that everyday we choose on approach or the other and the consequences will always follow.

To illustrate the difference, consider this piece of writing below:

A manager that has experienced great releases in the past few sprints (no critical bugs post release). The next, the client finds a major bug in the platform.

Part 1:

The Problem Owner - “What’s happened here? Let’s investigate the process into why this has happened so it never happens again.

The Deflector - “It’s an anomaly, it’ll never happen again” as he shrugs it off

Part 2:

The Problem Owner - “ So this is the way it is. Let’s address the issue head on”

The Deflector - “If people in the company would just do thier jobs then we wouldn’t have problems like this”

The problem owner looks for solutions to the problems, minimise the chances of something like this happening again, and most importantly being part of the solution by asking “What can I do?” The moment the ideal solution comes up, action is taken. The other manager, having blamed everyone else, excuses himself altogether “It’s not my job”

Which manager would you rather have?

In one of my previous post, I mention that your mission is what drives you. If you spend time on doing things that are not adding value, you are being irrelevant. Clarify your goals with your manager. If you can't come to an agreement on what your purpose is, you will not be motivated to do the things you do. You will be on autopilot rather than enjoying life for what it is.

To summarise,

  1. Student Seeing MasteryExtraordinary results happen only when you give the best to your most important work. Understand that mastery takes time, it takes real commitment to achieve it.
  2. Find The Best Way of Doing Things - Don’t just settle for what you are currently doing - be open to new thinking, new skills, and build new relationships.
  3. Take Ownership -  Change only happens when you put yourself accountable for what happens around you. You are not the one who gets pushed around to do things, you carve your own side.

Happy and Testing and Keep Improving!

 

3 Comments

  1. You make me think of Miyamoto Musashi’s “Book of Five Rings”, the guide to strategy by a 16th-century Japanese master swordsman. He summarised his Way of Strategy in nine principles:

    1. Do not think dishonestly.
    2. The Way is in training.
    3. Become acquainted with every art.
    4. Know the Ways of all professions.
    5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
    6. Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.
    7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
    8. Pay attention even to trifles.
    9. Do nothing which is of no use.

    Your first principle is Mushashi’s no.2; your second I think encapsulates most of the rest from no.3 onwards! Your last principle wasn’t really covered by Mushashi, but then again, he was assuming from the outset that the samurai would take “ownership” of any and every situation because that was just what they did. For a samurai, saying “Not my department, guv” was generally a short route to an appointment with the end of your own sword.

    Overall, then, a useful summary of good principles that should apply to everything, not just testing.

  2. […] Ask about one thing – DO NOT create a shopping list to ask one person. Just ask one question and ensure that the question you ask is something that they are most likely to be in the position to help you with. Here is an example, I wanted to find out how other companies do QA. The first person I reached out to was a friend of mine from University who also has the same job title as I do. […]

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