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Because Sometimes, the First Time Just Isn’t Right (TESTHEAD)

On May 30, 2013, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I started working on some bead-work for my daughters scalp feathers. I got it started, and along the way, as it was taking shape, I liked it a lot, and then I noticed it was rather “bulky”. More than bulky, it didn’t seem to be fitting snugly against the leather wrapping. I’d used too many beads to get it started, so the rest of the way, it just made for a thick and bulky cylinder of beads.

I could have done a number of things, but I decided the best thing to do was to just twist the beads, break the anchor thread, slide them off, and start again. The cool thing is that the cylinder I’ve already made is free standing and sturdy, I can use it on something else, but I want to have these feathers look good for my girl, so starting over again really isn’t a big issue. Just re-thread, count the beads all the way around, divide by three, and make sure we are snug at the start.

Too often, we find ourselves doing things, and we realize they are taking a lot of time. Sometimes, because of the time it is taking we either don’t realize when we have made a mistake, or we try to do something, anything, to recover. Why? Because we’ve invested so much time already. Yep I put in two hours on these beads, so my first inclination was to figure out some way, any way, to not have to start over. The problem is that all of the imperfections and issues would be compounded the farther along I went. it’s a sunk cost fallacy. I may lament that I spent all that time, but the truth is, I can’t get that time back anyway. It’s already been spent. Rather than take it as an opportunity to rush through and complete something in a less than satisfactory manner, I undid it and I started again. I failed fairly fast, and that made me less reluctant to just say “let’s kill this and start over”.

Sometimes in our testing we can get a bit too “dogmatic”. We want to follow our procedures and our methods because we have worked a long time to perfect them. It can be frustrating to realize that, for a particular job, our pet method may not actually be the best choice. The lesson isn’t to dig in our heels and make it work, it’s to consider what we could do instead that would be a better and more natural fit. This is why I like the idea of not having rules, but having heuristics. Rules are often iron clad, and they are hard to break (at least mentally and emotionally so). Heuristics I have no such issues with. If a heuristic doesn’t prove to be working out, there are several others I can use. There’s a difference between doing things right, and doing the right things. Sometimes one counts more than the other. Experience is what guides us to the ability to make those determinations.

 

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