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Disruptive Testing

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New technologies and a need for innovation mean we test within a rapidly changing and evolving environment. But no matter how much we estimate and plan, something seems to throw these plans into chaos. Agile helps us to minimise this disruption through an iterative and incremental approach but regardless we seems to get surprised and frustrated by change.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb argues that much of what we do lives in Black Swan territory. A black swan is a metaphor for an unpredictable event that in hindsight was preventable. Sound familiar? Software testing is the ultimate black swan challenge. Our very role is to search for unpredictable events. The irony is that in the process of hunting for these black swans, our testing itself becomes the target of black swans! For example, development takes longer than anticipated, business change their minds and bug retesting takes longer than hoped. These black swans impact our ability to accurately estimate and plan.

Taleb argues that instead of attempting to improve prediction we are better off developing a more robust approach to change. It’s time for a rethink in testing. It’s time to change our approach from one of control to one that embraces disruption. One in which testing becomes stronger and more valuable as a result of change. But how? The key lies in developing a testing mindset and developing tester skill. In this talk I will discuss how to helps testers become expert black swan hunters and how to develop a testing process that embraces disruption and welcomes change.



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Anne-Marie Charrett

Anne-Marie is a software tester, trainer and coach with a reputation of excellence and passion for the craft of software testing. An electronic engineer by trade, software testing chose her when she started conformance testing against European standards. She now consults and trains testers specialising in transforming test teams into powerhouses of testing skill.

Anne-Marie is Irish born and bred. She now lives in Sydney, Australia where she consults and lectures at the University of Technology, Sydney on software testing. She blogs at and offers the occasional tweet at @charrett.

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