Transformers are Leaders, not Toys!


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I was recently asked ‘how do you take a team mostly focused on manual testing and
turn them into a team that writes solid automation?’.  And as I thought about my answer, I realized
this doesn't just apply to testing, but any team that is reforming can follow
these same simple steps. I honestly didn't realize this is what we were doing
until I look back over the last year and realize what key decisions and actions
caused our transformation to take effect.

The first thing a manager needs to do to start a transformation is to start
expecting the new end results. For example, my team needed to start writing
automation and even though in some cases they needed to gain the skills and
experience to know the best way to do this, I started asking for reports of how
much automation we had and what our targets would be for the next 18
months.  I continued to push gently in
the right places to get a report framework created, then to get people to plan
their targets, for them to understand how to use our automation toolset, and
finally how to jump in and start writing automation. Without setting the
expectation for the end result, the team would not have understood what I was
looking for or the direction they needed to head.

Secondly, I cleared the path as best I could to give the team time to transform. In this
specific case, my testers spent too much time doing lab work (machine setup and
maintenance) and this wasn't their expertise so this took even longer to do. I
brought in lab engineers to solely work on the service of providing updated
servers to the test team and handle any future requests from the testers. As
this saved them time, it gave them time to start writing automation. But the
other obstacle was where to begin? It's difficult to write automation from
scratch, so I brought in a test architect who not only mentored the individual
testers in how to write automation, but also brought with him a set of tools
that allowed code reuse and a consistent way for everyone to write automation.
Again, the path was cleared.

At this point, many people moved forward and were able to transform themselves.
Now, the final piece is to polish the team on their skills by providing them
more training. Although many learned their skills on the job and from others,
formalizing this training and growing it to a level of expertise that can allow
them to add even more value to the team is the final step in our
transformation.

So no matter how you are transforming your team (or yourself), the 3 main steps
you need to follow are: set expectations based on the final results you want to
achieve, clear the path so there are no obstacles blocking the progress, and
don't stop there - add some final polish to truly prove the team's
transformation is complete.

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