There have been over my time in Quality and Testing a number of books that have had a profound impact on my career.

I also enjoy reading sports books and trying to apply them to my Quality and Testing career.

Here are some books and other materials that have had an impact on me both professionally and personally.

The Five STEPS to a Winning Mindset – Damian Hughes

Again, a book that combines sport and leadership and the relationship between the two and how they can be applied to testing and software engineering (okay, that’s what I did with them!) How I’ve applied them to Software Engineering are:

  • Simple : Finding the core of your message – What is the value of testing? Why do we test? For me it’s all about uncovering information about the product, we can do this with the software itself, or we can do it through the planning or wherever. This all ties into giving stakeholders confidence in the software.
  • Tripwire : Create the unexpected – 95% of our life is spent in the routine and habitual world, we need to give people and teams the opportunity to utilise the other 5% and uncover the uknowns, and we can then feed that into the testing we do.
  • Emotional : Make people care – In order for things to happen, in order for change, people need to care. Frame your testing story around the impact. It’s no use saying that the bag service is down, highlight the fact that customers can’t add products to the bag, they can’t buy something on an ecommerce site (as an example!)
  • Practical : Help people understand and remember – When talking about testing, when talking about the activities we do, no matter how technical, tailor your communication to the audience. I often ask in an interview “How would you explain testing to a 5 year old?” It takes a great skill to be able to communicate on a number of different levels and still get your point across.
  • Stories : Get people to act – People love stories, they make people feel something, and when you do that, you have them hooked. Everything we do, frame it in such a way that it tells a story, it’s why some presentations are so rememberable, they tell a great story.

Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins

I was recommended this book by a close friend, I ended up listening to it on Audible, as opposed to reading it, but it’s such a powerful story about a man who overcame so much to achieve something pretty miraculous. It showed me that no matter where you are in life, what has happened to you, it is never too late to take control and focus on yourself. Nobody can take away what makes you, you. You live your life, not to be happy, but to be fulfilled, and to be challenged.

Radical Candor – Kim Scott

A book all about giving feedback that comes from a place of caring personally and challenging directly. It breaks it down into four different types of feedback:

  • Ruinous Empathy – Where you just say what you believe the other person wants to hear. You’re not doing either of you any favours here though.
  • Manipulative Insincerity – Praise that just isn’t true, you may say one thing to the individuals face, but another behind their back.
  • Obnoxious Aggression – Brutal honesty, you challenge someone directly but you don’t really care about the impact, you’re not really thinking about how they might receive the feedback.
  • Radical Candor – You give them feedback and frame it in such a way that they know it comes from a good place, it comes with the intention of helping them, you show this by caring about them personally.

The Score Takes Care of Itself – Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh was an American Football coach of the San Francisco 49ers, so a book that combines sport (and not just any sport, but American Football) and Leadership, is a no-brainer for me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, some of the key lessons for me were:

  • The outcome of a game is down to 20% luck, talking about the referee, the way the ball bounces, things that are outside of your control. The rest of it, is down to your control, and you should do everything in your power to control it.
  • The power of our people, never be afraid of pushing people to be the best they can be, they may not see their true potential, but if you do, then make sure you capitalise on it.
  • Protect your blind side, in American Football the blind side is the side of the line that the Quarterback doesn’t see, traditionally, for a right armed quarterback, it would be the left tackle. In testing, the blind side of the application is your weakest point, identify this and put in place things to support as needed.
  • Don’t focus on winning, but focus on getting better. Focus on continuously improving yourself, and you’ll be fine. If you focus on a specific outcome, then when you reach that outcome, you’ll be empty and not sure where to go next.