Earlier this week, Ash Coleman asked a question on Twitter: “Today I walked a team through several analogies to describe testing, like ‘gatekeeper’ or ‘goalie’… Curious, which analogies do you use to describe testing and testers?”
I really liked this question! I didn’t have an immediate answer, so it was a fun thought exercise. I first considered the analogies that Ash used. In a company that has a supportive and widespread consideration of quality, I think gatekeeper can be a great analogy! It brings to mind that testers are kind of the last line of defense - meaning that testers are the last chance to add quality or prevent regressions before something goes live, but that everyone else was also working hard at supporting testing and quality all along the way.
However, that scenario doesn’t fit my experience with the gatekeeper analogy. I’ve seen the gatekeeper analogy used as an excuse for other people not to include quality practices in their work, or to pay less attention to the details, because it’ll be caught by the tester. The gatekeeper perspective places the responsibility of testing and quality onto the shoulders of testers alone, which causes all sorts of problems.
Someone else replied to Ash’s tweet with a great analogy about Indiana Jones: “I like to think Indiana Jones… exploring and prodding and figuring out what and how it might be used”. I love this one! I see a lot of ways that testers are like Dr. Jones - intrepid explorers, we search the way ahead; we look for pitfalls and ways to avoid them; we need to be flexible and iterate quickly based on needs. We also try to do good in addition to doing well, often teach and educate people around us, and make sure everyone’s prepared for the journey. I also happen to look quite dashing in a fedora 😉
I’m curious to hear what analogies you think describe testers! Does the Indiana Jones comparison resonate with you, or something else?