Explaining the other work we do

I had a technical issue I needed to research for a client. Nothing surprising, I research different bits of information frequently. At the end of my research I realized I wanted to explain what I’d done, I wanted to clarify and present what avenues I had pursued, what information I’d learned, what issues remained and what possible other solutions we might look into. I realized I wanted to share these bits of information with the project team so I set out to write an email.

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I hadn’t thought much about what I had done. I figured it would be a short email and nothing more. Once I got writing, I realized how many avenues I had in fact pursued. In writing I realized I didn’t want to be vague so I added the references I’d used whether those references were people, forums or online articles. From a political perspective, this team is low on politics so it wasn’t that I was trying to cover anything. I had done the solid digging on the subject. I wrote what I did. I sent the email.

I received unexpected positive feedback from the team. One person thanked me and this from a person who doesn’t use extra words on any topic. It was flattering, it felt nice and I appreciated them taking the time to give me the feedback. Later that same day, I happened to go for a walk. Reflecting on this situation I realized – this is a small bit of work that I do as a matter of course but by typically not thinking to share it and detail what I had done – it would normally disappear.

How often might we do that as testers? How often do we perform small bits of work and don’t think to share it?

If we don’t at times share what we do, our coworkers and clients won’t know. It’s not that we need credit for every bit of work that we do but it is important for people to know that at times, if not frequently, we do bits of work they might not realize. We might consider more frequently explaining the research we do as well as other quiet background tasks.

If people don’t know what we do at times, they won’t know what they might lose when they consider replacing us with a cheaper resource. They won’t understand all of the skills we bring to the table if chunks of our work take place without ever being spoken of.

I’ve taken to a new habit or at least I’m trying to make it a new habit, I ask myself at the end of the week: what have I done? I’m trying to get past the obvious and instant answers. I’m trying to ask myself, what else? What did I learn this week? What work might I have done that no one may be aware of?

Last week, I spent no less than 9 hours updating software in my test lab, another task that I handled quietly because I’ve managed test labs for years and now own a small test lab of my own. I don’t think to talk about it, because it’s “just something” that I do.

So ask yourself: Do you do tasks that no one is aware of? Should you explain more of your work to your team?

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