7 Habits of Highly Effective People applied to Testing

The front cover of the 7 Habits of highly effective people

This post will talk about the 7 habits of highly effective people applied to testing and also how it can help you become a more effective tester. I became aware of these 7 habits as part of a series of workshops where I worked. Like any workshop that was being done by work, I was dubious at first, but not for long.

I loved the habits that it introduced, and the stories around them and of course how they made me feel. I still try to practice these in my day to day life, not only at work, but at home as well. Out of it I have created a personal mission statement that helps me in my day to day, and is something that I keep updating and modifying to keep it true to who I am and who I want to be. As part of this review, I won’t go into the 7 habits in detail, as I recommend you read the book to gain the full context.

I do however, want to take you through how they have changed me and made me a better tester, as that’s what we’re all here for, and hopefully they can help you too.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Applied to Testing

🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️ Be Proactive.

It isn’t necessary about being “pro-active”, a term that is very much over-used. This is more about how we can choose how we react to situations, and how we frame them. It is the one freedom that people can not take away from you. We all have things happen to us, that affect us, with this habit in mind, we can choose how we react.
We can choose how we react when we find issues, we can choose how we react when perhaps we’re not listened to, or something we felt passionately about didn’t quite work out. Rather than letting it get us down, we can take the positives from the situation and look at what we’ve learnt.

🔚🔚 Begin with the end in mind

Whilst I’ve used this on a personal level, and created my own personal mission statement (something which I highly recommend), but more on a professional level, working with teams, understanding just what it is that they want to get out of the project, the piece of work, and using that as the guiding star for whatever we do. I’ve spoke about it at conferences, how it helped us reduce our deployment times, our automated test times and gave us far greater confidence in our deployments. From identifying where we wanted to get to, it helped us work back and figure out just what was needed to get there.

🔢🔢 Put first things first.

This is all about prioritising. It’s about understanding where the risks are in the application, and being able to work to mitigate, highlight and understand the impact of those risks first and foremost. So that people can work on reducing the likelihood or even potentially, removing those risks. Remember, we can never test everything, but we can test smartly, and cover what we deem as most important by putting first things first.

🧠🧠 Think Win-Win.

We’ve all been there, raised bugs, that aren’t going to be fixed, no matter how much we want them to. It encourages us to think about what the other person wants, and find something that we both deem a “victory”.
When we find issues, we need to frame them in such a way that the person who we need to influence, the decision makers, understand. Making sure we explain and talk in such a way that they feel how we feel, using powerful language, and making it seem like we’re both winning out of the situation.

💡💡 Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

All too often, we go into things with the desire for people to understand us. We neglect what they want. We want people to understand why we are testing and even how we are testing. Before we get to this, we need to consider just what are we testing, what are we hoping to achieve. This will clearly impact the testing we are going to do. Understand what we want to test, and why, before we go about how. Tying it into the Win-Win above as well, what does the person we’re trying to talk to want? Once we understand that, we can reframe our conversation around that.

🔄🔄 Synergize.

We are stronger together. I am a big believer in that if we build diverse and happy Engineering teams, they will deliver quality products. There are a number of ways to achieve this, it’s something that is clearly important that we should all do. In everything we do, look at what is being brought to the team, what skills do people add. I’ve seen elsewhere “Don’t look for culture fit, look for culture add” and I like that, it applies to skills and other attributes as well. You should be constantly looking to raise the bar of the team and the people you work with.

🗡🗡 Sharpen the saw.

Our work as a Tester, QA Engineer, SDET, whatever it is you call yourself is never done. We need to constantly be learning, be bettering ourselves and growing. Focusing on not just our technical skills, but our non technical skills as well. Identify what you want to go after and using the habits above, get it done.

Clearly, I use these habits in my day to day life as well. I’ve created a personal mission statement (you can create your own here), I update it regularly. This helps me make sure I know what I’m doing and the impact it has on others as well. Ultimately, this book has not only made be a better tester, but a better person as well.

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