Building the Test Factory was defined by the metaphor “ you need to be able to crawl before you can walk”. No one in history has ever skipped that evolutionary step. Some moms might claim that their child never crawled but went right from sitting to walking…

To build the Test Factory, we needed to know who our customers were and where we fit into the big picture. We needed to determine how we would address the customer base and represent ourselves within the organisation.

By looking at the overall Business case for the 1000 day program we got a good idea of what was expected of us and when, but we still needed to be able to sell ourselves to the business so that they understood how we could help them in achieving their vision. We needed a mission statement.

Make a Statement

One of the first steps in determining our group’s identity was to clearly state who we where and what our overall goal was as a group. That way we would be able to talk form the same hymn sheet when talking with the business and the Project Managers.

This was essentially the mission statement and although I question the importance and use of a mission statement in general, I think it is important for our group and for the overall organization to have a simple statement that reflected who we where.

We developed our “ statement” in a one-day workshop where all Business test managers participated. The group was divided into two teams, and six questions were put in front of them to answer. The questions were:

    • Where do you want to go?
    • What is your identity?
    • What is your expectation of the outside world?
    • What is your expectation of the team?
    • The journey towards bridging it and the business
    • What will be your journey towards building the bridge between your team expectations and business expectations?
    • What is your contribution to the company

Based on the above questions, the two groups were asked to determine and clearly state who they are and to describe their overall goal as a group. The statement was to reflect what they want to achieve as a group and take the form of bullet points that were easy to remember and could be quoted whenever possible. The mission statement should also deal with the following key words “ dedicated” , “ stable” , “ useable” , “ reliable”  and “ well-defined” .

To support the process I used elements of Lego serious play (LPS). Yep! We used Lego’s to support the process of discovering our identity.

LSP draws upon extensive research from the fields of business, psychology, organization development, and education. It works by having participants make use of multiple intelligences:

    • Visual-spatial intelligence
    • Linguistic intelligence
    • Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence

LPS is a very powerful tool as teams discover what they didn’t know they knew in a very direct manner. The short version of how it works is that you:

LPS can be a very powerful tool as teams discover, in a very direct manner, what they didn’t know and what they did know.  The following provides a brief description of how it works:

    • Using your hands to build something releases thoughts and concepts that are “ Stuck”  in your head. Thoughts that are built tend to be more memorable and more easily understood by yourself and others.
    • You work with metaphors. They are a powerful tool that can lead us to think about our realities in new ways. These might challenge existing assumptions and beliefs and reveal new possibilities.
    • Use Storytelling that lets you imagine and describe what might happen before it actually does. Making stories about your model allows you to test what could happen in real life and in real time, and produces knowledge that could affect future action.
    • Use your Imagination. Humans have it. Animals don’t. It is the unique ability to think about what has not yet been – but could be. Imagination is THE resource that allows us to explore and test new possible realities.

With the tools above and a full day without any disturbances we come up with the following Mission statement:

We as a group want to be a recognized world class testing team by:

    • Providing quality service
    • Being seen as helping the process, not delaying it,
    • Working with programmes and projects to promote the use of testing disciplines
    • Ensuring the implementation of correct and complete requirements,
    • Being dedicated to delivering stable, useable and reliable business solutions on time and within budget
    • Achieving the maximum positive effect using a well-defined process.

The statement itself was primarily used in documentation for our methodology and in presentations to management and to our customers.

Additionally, in our effort to support projects, each Senior Test Manager was assigned to a business area as to serve as Business liaison. That way we, and others, knew whom to talk to get their project assigned for testing. It also helped to coordinate our effort(s) across projects so that we wouldn’t test more than was absolutely necessary from a business critical point of view. And finally, it helped in talking to the IT testing groups, the applications development group supporting the area, and the infrastructure groups.

Because the Business Testing group played a variety of roles in supporting the various business areas, I felt it was necessary to clearly communicate what role we would play and what we expect from the groups we interacted with. We developed a matrix of roles & responsibilities for the Senior Test Manager and presented it to the business area management teams. The Matrix was similar to a RACI Chart.

Now, we had a really good platform where we could operate from. We where now up and walking….

To be continued….