MedicalEmergencies_TestingSkillsA friend I know, let’s call her Rita delivered a baby girl recently. Complications in her delivery led to C-section. The little one’s came out safe. 30 minutes later, Rita was shifted to the ward. She badly needed some rest especially after enduring labor pain for 20 hours!
Her husband returned to reality when he said, ‘Hey, I need to eat something’. After all, his tummy cried out after 16 hours of hunger. He left to the canteen to grab some food. I was all alone in the room. Well, technically not. I picked up some scattered towels / bed sheets and started folding them while Rita slept.

There was a strange noise. Rita suffered an epileptic seizure. Anyone who has witnessed it would know that the patient is prone to biting her tongue off (yeah, literally!), fracturing the limbs or even hurting someone holding them through sudden kicks and pushes. I held her hands tight while I screamed to the nurse. The nurse came running. She called other nurses. Doctor was on the way. The attendant in next room called her husband. He was back. About 15 nurses had assembled in the room. The seizure stopped, but she was drifting to unconsciousness. She wasn’t responding. Her eyes went up. Gynaecologist arrived and asked me to leave the room.

The nurses were crying out loud to get the ventilator, put her on drips, checked catheter output, switched on the vital stats system. She wasn’t responding. Gynaecologist and Anaesthetist checked on her and were shocked to hear about what happened. Rita was forced to talk, an effort to keep her awake while some tests were being done and blood was drawn for follow-up tests.

There were two nurses on the floor catering to the needs of ten patients in the maternity department. When I raised an alarm, 15 staff members including nurses, 3 duty doctors and one house-keeping staff assembled in less than 5 minutes. The gynaecologist was there in 10 minutes. Necessary work was done in 30 minutes. Rita appeared fine while she was referred to a neurologist.

What I witnessed on that day from the medical staff?
· Team Work
· Presence of Mind
· Quickness
· Checklist based thought process
· Great Stress Management
· Dedication and Commitment
· Emphasis on saving a life

What I didn’t witness (What I didn’t wish to see)?
· Blame Game
· Ineffectiveness
· Slowness
· Poor Skill
· Lack of Ownership
· Lack of Leadership

How is this related to Testing?
Imagine the patient’s situation if one nurse didn’t bring the ventilator fast enough or the duty doctor turned up late or two nurses kept arguing who should check the blood pressure. The patient’s life could be at risk.

Thankfully, the medical staff I saw worked as a TEAM. They kept their differences aside. They worked through some problems and found workable solutions. The leader of that team ensures that there is good bonding at work. If they don’t do well, they are reprimanded by surgeons. The ones with bad attitude are moved to other departments where their problems can be fixed in other ways.

When we test software, there are too many tests to be done, in very short time. Triaging tests, prioritizing and executing them is not just time consuming, but also challenging given many constraints few of which are listed below:
· Unstable test environments
· Delayed code drops
· Insufficient code drops. For e.g, if there were say 10 features, only 1 feature would be available to test
· Code drops coming towards release deadlines with massive number of features
· Test Data availability
· Inadequate infrastructure
· Poor bug triages
· Programmer / Tester demon fights (Clash of the Titans?)
And a lot more …

As testers grow, what becomes important is not the knowledge or skills or how many technologies he knows but emotional intelligence to deal with people and situations. In difficult scenarios, testers can crib or handle the situation courageously. The choice is left to the tester, whether he takes it or not.

What do testers need to learn to deliver well enough?
· Courage
· Right Attitude
· Skills

Courage tops the list because testers must be capable of cutting through the crap, fixing problems and helping teams move forward faster! Only courageous people can ask difficult questions and think of daring solutions. Only courageous can face the fight! Only courageous ones can weed out unwanted pests.

A bad weed must be weeded out as quickly as possible or it may end up destroying the harvest.
Skills are important. Some testers might have the best possible skills in the world, but if they don’t carry the right attitude, they can do nothing! Yeah, nothing! Right attitude bundled with skills is a killer combo to beat testing stress!

Jerry Weinberg says, “No Matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem.” Testers who can work like the medical emergency team will emerge out as winners on projects with any level of complexity. Testers who demonstrate transformational leadership are the ones who are going to rule the future of testing. HariprasadArticlesTesting SkillsA friend I know, let’s call her Rita delivered a baby girl recently. Complications in her delivery led to C-section. The little one’s came out safe. 30 minutes later, Rita was shifted to the ward. She badly needed some rest especially after enduring labor pain for 20 hours! Her husband...
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Parimala Hariprasad

Parimala Hariprasad has nine plus years of experience in testing, leading and coaching teams of software testers. She has worked in CRM, Security, Retail and Support Automation domains in the past. Apart from testing that she is most passionate about, she loves coaching testers. She has also published numerous articles about her experiences in software testing for magazines like Better Software, Testing Circus and Testing Planet. Parimala is an active participant in industry-related conferences and meet ups. She is a strong believer of team work and helps teams work together towards a common end goal. If Parimala is not testing, she loves to play with her two lovely kids, read books, magazines etc. She is a self-claimed emotional over eater who eats to beat every emotion in the world! Parimala is Master Shifu of Academy - the Kung Fu School of Testing at Moolya Software Testing Pvt Ltd, Bangalore.

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