A few weeks ago, I attended a presentation about diversity and it was enlightening. I personally always think the word “diversity” is very corporate and used as standard manager terminology. For me, I instead think about diversity as “differences” between people. Everyone is different and it’s not just about race or gender, but includes background and experiences. No two people are the same. This sounds like a simple statement, but once it is internalized, this can be a great realization and advantage when it comes to managing a test team.
Every customer is different and therefore they use every product differently. A test team won’t be able to test a product thoroughly and be the customer advocate if every tester is the same. I can have two people run through the same test cases for a feature and find totally different bugs. This is because their backgrounds, experience, and general diversity means that each will make different decisions about what button to click or what the meaning is for a phrase in the software. This also supports the decision to never automate everything. Automation is not diverse. It will run the same way every time unless you have programmed some randomness into it. So, different testers need to be looking at features to truly improve the customer experience.
The piece of info from this diversity presentation that was never presented to me before is the value of inclusion. Many managers can say that they have a diverse team and many companies have statistics around how diverse their workforce is. But being diverse is not enough – managers should take advantage of those valuable differences in their employees and focus on making each person feel welcomed, respected, and valued within the team. Inclusion means that teams not only have diverse employees but that the manager uses their differences in a positive manner. Managers need to listen and consider their different solutions to a problem. Managers need to value their opinions especially when reviewing docs, processes, automation code, etc. In meetings, all attendees need to consider that others may not communicate in the same way as they do or think about the problem in the same way, but by being patient and including them in the discussion, the group may find new ideas and better solutions. Each member of a team should grant inclusion to others and accept inclusion from others. I encourage my testers to be critical thinkers by asking hard questions . And their diversity just enhances that critical thinking even more. They may each ask questions in a different way and therefore get different answers or make the recipient of those questions think harder about the issue. When the team understands and values their differences and then successfully drives to a release or deliverable, that success is even more celebrated because it’s such a great experience getting so many different people to converge on one high quality results.
So having a diverse team is not enough. Managers need to focus on leveraging those differences for an overall positive outcome and more productive team. Clones do not make good testers.