Friday 9 March 2012

Moving Office and Learning a New Language

Welcome back to Adventures with Autism Works. This last fortnight has seen some interesting developments for me at Autism Works, not least with regards to what I am learning from the ISEB Foundation in Software Testing Training Course that I am currently doing, and today sees us move into some temporary offices before we move to Milburn House on Dean Street, a little further down the road from our current premises on Grey Street in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

I feel that I am making quite reasonable progress with the ISEB Foundation course. As well as learning some new terminology and gaining an understanding of software testing tools, I am also finding that there is a lot of similarities in the course to what I have previously studied or practised, from the Management module that I studied as part of my MA (Hons) in Information Management to Buddhist philosophies I have heard described in Dhamma talks delivered by Ajahn Munindo and Ajahn Sumedho.

Much of lessons one and two of the course have been about Quality Assurance, along the theme of preventing defective products from being made through testing rather that allowing defective products from coming off the production line through lack of testing. This reminded me very much of an interview with Tom Peters, the renowned Management Consultant, that I watched when a student at Northumbria University, in which he talks about achieving excellence through assessment techniques and continuously identifying areas for improvement. This was when the concept of management was totally new to me, but in applying such an approach to the present time, Tom Peters recognises that there is no one-size-fits all approach to management consultancy, which is why his service doesn't have a single approach. Rather like the Autism Works recruitment process cannot have a one-size-fits all approach due to the huge difference between individuals on the autistic spectrum, due to the different requirements of software developers, the company can't have a one-size-fits-all approach to testing.

However, an approach that we can employ with whichever testing tool that we approach testing a company's software with is one of our key assets, our independence from the constraints and systems that software developers work under, which as readers of this blog may remember is what we like to market ourselves on at Autism Works. As we are not familiar with the systems and working practices, it can enable to see their work from a different perspective, thus see details more clearly. This is very similar to the 16 knowledges (nanas), central to practising insight meditation, which focus on how we can be 'conditioned' by how we interpret our surroundings, in other words, how our mind can 'edit' how we see the world around us. Another aspect of software testing where Buddhist philosophy can be applied is in communication of truth between the development and testing teams, rather than applying blame, as the developers and testers are on the same side with a joint goal of getting effective and well-tested software to the market quickly. To enable this, it helps to use empathy where necessary.

As I write this piece, we have just moved into temporary accommodation until our preferred new premises are fitted with broadband, which should be in about a month's time. Taking apart desks and furniture for moving reminded me of various comedies involving DIY going wrong! Elsewhere, I have also had some very generous donations for my Bupa Great North Run Challenge over the last two weeks - a huge thank you to all those who have thus far donated. You can visit my Great North Run page at

Stay tuned to this blog for more adventures in the world of software testing!


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