In the last few days the noise around ISO 29119 is metaphorically deafening. And the case the proponents of the petition to suspend/revoke 29119 sounds quite reasonable. They claim that there is no wide consensus, that not all sides have been heard. They fear that this standard is there to create business for big consultancies and not to further the software testing profession. Many of their arguments are sound and do resonate with me as well. I agree that, as to what I have seen, the standard only covers some parts and a very particular approach to testing. And I agree, that judging the whole standard based on its content is not as easy as one would like, as you have to pay quite some money for it.
So why is it then, that I have troubles signing that petition? I am a freelance consultant as well (not only, admittedly), not in line with everything the ISTQB or other organizations say about testing. I am affected in my job as well as anybody else in the testing profession. And I do take my profession seriously. So given that the arguments seem sound and I am affected, I should not hesitate. Yet I do.
I do, because of the ongoing discussions I have been following in the social media the last few days. I do, because of the fact that I have heard a lot about “that has to stop” but not a lot about “that is what we offer”. I do, because I do not know how many of the commentators actually reviewed the full standard, which is not freely available. I do, because I myself had not the opportunity to review it. I do hesitate, because the discussions in the last few days made me doubt the motives of some of the proponents.
My impression is, that contrary to the claims of the initiators of the petition they do not seek an improvement of the standard. At least some of them, sorry for generalizing. My impression is that some just want to stop any standardization process. Fair enough, but then say it. My impression is that it is not about additional inclusion of modern or maybe even controversial ideas, furthering the development of the art and engineering of software testing. My impression is that it is about replacing just with their views. My impression is that it is not us and them and a lot of others. My impression is that it is us vs. them and the rest of the world who have different opinions. So, if my impression would be true, some of the proponents do not have any better intentions as they ascribe to the makers of ISO 29119.
The cynical person in me suggests that some of them are just basically afraid that they could lose their business of selling “non-standard” testing. That their intentions are not primarily about testing, but about their personal gain. To be fair: consulting to get companies standard ready is a lucrative business, and it would not be the first standard where quite a lot of people suspect strong industry interest (formulating cautiously, not wanting to get sued). I have decided to dismiss this thought, as I have come to hold many people proposing to stop ISO 29119 and their ideas in high regard.
I personally get wary about nearly every kind of evangelism of methodologies. And I know that this in itself can be considered dogmatic. But I have made the observation that the freedom and inclusion demanded by avant-garde thinkers is often not given to others by the very same people. And I am deeply convinced that one must allow others the same freedom of opinion and leeway of acting as one is asking for him or herself. I really like Robert Martins article (http://blog.8thlight.com/uncle-bob/2012/04/18/After-The-Disaster.html) on standards, as it is thoughtful and draws a very accurate picture as to what could happen. I figure that this is the last thing the proponents of Stop 29119 want to happen. I do not want that to happen. I believe nobody in the testing profession wants that to happen.
I therefore strongly believe that we have to come out of this “we are cooler than you”, “we are more experienced than you”, “certification is good, because …”, “certification is bad, because” behavior and try to find common ground. That common ground might not be all encompassing. That common ground might be the most minimal consensus a diverse, multi-national, multi-cultural, multi-whatever-there-is community can come up with. But I reiterate: just being against is not enough. And I have seen few things beyond that in the last few days. That’s why I have troubles signing the petition, even though I see a lot of valid points in the arguments put forward.
Ps: I will invite some proponents of both sides to comment on that in the hope to get andprovide more clarity.
pps: I found a bug in WP when trying to publish this article 🙂
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