Most of the Testers have a very shallow approach towards testing. The missing piece in this industry is about ‘Going Deep’. Anybody you bring in for testing, they would think the shallow way because that’s how everybody begins. Going deep is the hardest. For example, if you’re swimming on the surface of the ocean, it’s relatively easy than going deep into the ocean. For deep diving, you will need an apparatus, something like a snorkel, which enables you to breathe while you see the beautiful life inside the ocean. Going deeper, like while scuba diving, you see something that is impossible to see from the surface. If you wish to go even deeper, something like a submarine enables you to do so. Probably, to reach the ocean bed, you’d need a special deep-submergence vehicle like this.

Deep Submergence Vehicle
James Cameron used something like this to reach the bottom of Marina Trench

Going deep in Testing is very similar to going deep into the Ocean. Very few people have actually gone deep. Why very few people have gone deep?

  • One needs to be trained to go deep(it’s difficult).
  • One needs more tools/apparatus.
  • Most importantly, one must dare to go deep.

We as humans have inherited a lot of ‘fears’ and this fear prevents us from ‘going deep’. What does one get from going deep? They see a different world in the depths. Each of us has spent countless hours on Nat Geo or Discovery channels watching the amazing beauty of the depth of the oceans which is otherwise unexplored. People who have been to these depths would like to go in again and again and again. In fact, we all wish to go there, but we all have our own inabilities and/or inhibitions.

I have been fortunate to have gone to a little bit of the depths. Why do I say so? It is because very few people agree with me. When I talk about my approach to testing, people say, “No, that’s not testing”, “This is not the way you test”. The bottom line is; there are people in this world that might not agree with you, possibly because they are not at the same depth as you. Some have not gone to the depth, some have gone deeper than you. Hence the disconnect between you and them. Depending on the depth that one goes to, perceptions might vary. A person who has gone 4 km deep into the ocean might have a different story about the ocean compared to a person who has gone 11 km deep to the same ocean.

In the Testing context, you’d be talking very differently than most of the people who are swimming on the surface. If people are agreeing to most of what you’re talking about today that means they might be at the same depth as you’re in. Also, over the years I have come to understand that not everybody is suited for the depth. Some people are better suited for the surface, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, there are enough number of people swimming on the surface, but there aren’t enough people at the depth. It’s very important for Testers to start thinking about where they want to fit in. If you want to fit into the surface that’s a different game when compared to the depth game. Naturally every Tester wants to do good. But if you want to do good, you first have to scan the surface, the mid-layer and also the depth. Initially when you’re young in the testing space, if you’re actually swimming on the surface, it’s fine. As and when you slowly age, you’re called ‘experienced’, that ideally should mean you can go deeper. But what has happened is that the people, irrespective of their experience, they are actually still at the surface. So, what happens when a lot of the experienced Testers are stuck at the surface? They don’t let the young ones enough room to swim freely at the surface. In most of the companies, the leads who have half-baked knowledge, deter the growth of anybody junior working with them. As a result of which, the newer folks’ creativity is put down, so that the experienced folks feel safer using tried-and-tested approaches.

How do you know you’re thinking deep enough? Your thought-process is guided by what you’ve learnt, what you’ve seen, what you’ve heard and what you’ve experienced. Now if this is shallow, you might think that you’re going deep but you’re probably still at the surface. So, it is is important for you to understand first what depth is. For that you can try different approaches. You could get a mentor who has gone to the depth. But you have to very careful about mentors, just because somebody knows a little bit more than you doesn’t mean they could be your mentor. You can use the experience of the people who are actually at the depth, these are the only people who can guide you to go deep. It takes time to build expertise, it is not possible be great right at day 1. Also you have to stay positive towards the kind of feedback you get; getting a feedback doesn’t mean you’re bad at something. People think they have to always be at a place where they’re considered good, I think you should be at a place where you’re considered not good enough. That is where you strive, learn and go deep. Find people who have published their experience reports, follow them, read everything they have published, frame your own ideas, ask them questions. If in this process, you go once inch deeper than they have gone, it’s your responsibility towards the world, to help all the newbies out there who wants to go deep. Because it’s lonely at the depth, most are on the surface.

Automation, when not done correctly, is another hindrance in going deep. Automation is like providing a float- board to the testers swimming on the surface. It undoubtedly eases the testing job, but the swimmers rely on the board so much, so often, that they tend to forget swimming(testing). At a stage, down the line, when the automation or the board is removed the testers(swimmers) struggle to stay afloat.