Q&A with Rosie Sherry

Welcome to Q&A, a series in which we discuss testing and quality with guests from the world of technology and software development.

Some guests you may know well, and others might be less familiar. You should learn something new about each of them, and something new from each of them. Each brings their own perspectives and insights on quality and testing.

The format will be the same each time:

  • a little information about this month’s guest and what they are currently up to
  • some questions for them to answer
  • some answers for them to question (the ‘Jeopardy’ section where I will provide the answer and ask the interviewee to give me the question)
  • finally, the ‘Pass it on’ section with a question from last month’s participant and the opportunity to pose a question for next month’s guest

In this edition of Q&A we are joined by Rosie Sherry who many readers will know as the inspirational founder of global testing community (not to mention learning platform, event organiser, forum, and all round testing powerhouse), Ministry of Testing.

In Rosie’s own words:

I started this thing called Ministry of Testing.  You may have heard of it.  I’ve been working on it for 10 years.  I love the world of testing and the journey of creating a community and bootstrapping MoT as a business has been an amazing experience. When I’m not doing that I run or get hands on unschooling my 5 kids.  You can find my personal site at rosiesherry.com or messytimes.com)


Welcome to Q&A, Rosie. Would you like to tell us about anything interesting you’ve been involved in recently, any exciting upcoming ventures, or just what you are working on at the moment?

The thing about Ministry of Testing is that it totally consumed by life for many years. Recently I’ve been focused on hiring some fabulous people and delegating all the things that need doing.  This is slowly freeing up some bits of time for myself to get back into things that I’ve personally missed – writing and creating.

I created Rosie’s Testing Research as a little project to collect interesting things on testing.  The idea is that it will build up into a useful repository of links and information that is of interest to me (and likely others).  Then in time it will help me to refocus on some of my writing and creating again.

If you encountered a version of yourself from earlier in your career, and talked about how you approach your work, what would you disagree on?

Honestly? I find this question near impossible to answer. It’s too easy to judge in hindsight. 

I’m a doer. And a trier.  Always doing the best I can with what I know and have. Everything I’ve done has led me to where I am today.  Bringing in a magical wand to try to fix it in hindsight would not really give me the experiences I have needed to grow into who I am today.

When you look back at your career so far, what do you consider to be the highlight(s)?

The whole creation of Ministry of Testing has been amazing. My life before that as a tester was pretty uneventful ​🙂​ The journey has been enlightening and allowed me to have flexibility and creativity in nurturing the community.  When something grows from nothing into a ‘global thing’, it’s humbling, (but also stressful at times).  I’m incredibly grateful to be able to call myself the founder.

More recently, as the team grows I feel it has been wonderful to work alongside Richard to bring MoT to the next stage.  Whilst there are many people who believe in what we are doing, no one stepped up to the challenge of supporting, growing and expanding our initiatives like Richard has.  It’s often a lonely place as a Founder and CEO, bringing him on board is just what the doctor ordered for me!

When you think back to these highlights, what were the most important lessons you learned?

Dreams are really all sorts of hard stressful lessons camouflaged in unicorn fairy tale rainbow coloured cloudy poop. The grass is definitely more rainbow coloured on the other side.

Whatever your dream, it’s gonna be a tough journey getting there.  And the journey won’t be what you initially imagined. People looking in from the outside will never understand the amount of tedious, boring and stressful stuff that goes into making stuff happen.

If you are going to go on a journey, to hopefully follow some of your dreams, the best thing you can do is to do things your way. Define your own rules.  Have long term loose goals, but don’t plan more than 12 months in advance and understand that it’s ok to change your dreams.  They are yours to have, change and adapt as you wish!

When you consider the many organisations around the world involved in developing software and technology, is there an example of one which stands out for you as having a focus on quality?

I love Trello at the moment.  I’ve not done any research into the quality of it or how it is built, but I love using it day in and day out for work, unschooling and personal stuff.  It simply works well all the time and brings me such joy using it ​🙂​ I get similar joy from Paper from DropBox.  It just feels good to use (especially when compared to Google Docs).

Of course judging quality is different for everyone.  These days, for me, the ethics of people and companies far outweigh traditional quality metrics.  I personally struggle to spend my money in companies and people that don’t have good ethics, but I’ll go above and beyond for those that show a good heart and intentions.  This philosophy spreads into my work at MoT.

What do you think is the most common misconception about testing?

I wouldn’t necessarily call it a misconception, but I think most people just don’t know what is involved in testing, so they don’t full understand what software testing is and what it can do for them.  I think this is at the heart of many testing misconceptions. As a community I believe there is so much more we can and should be doing to help others understand testing better.  And we need to figure out how to do this in an easy to consume way.

And now, the Jeopardy section. I’ll provide you with some answers and ask you to suggest the questions…

Quality

What is… ‘ytilauq’ backwards?

Testing

What is… something the whole team can be involved in to help create a better product?

Lastly, the ‘Pass it on’ section. This question was posed by last month’s participant, Neil Studd:

“What is the one piece of knowledge/wisdom that you wish every new tester could receive when starting their first job?”

There can often be overwhelming pressure to feel the need to know everything about the software and technology under test.  This can often overwhelm a new tester and make them feel inferior.  To overcome this I’d recommend:

  • focus on one thing/aspect to learn about
  • research doing that thing
  • practice doing that thing
  • become confident enough to explain it
  • explain it to someone somehow (an email, blog, a conversation, team knowledge share)
  • then start exploring something else, repeat the process.

And finally, what question would you like to pose for next month’s participant?

What can testers do better to share our craft with non-testers?


Many thanks to Rosie for taking part in Q&A. See you next time!