Friday, June 4, 2010

Pressure --- It's all yours!!!!!

Pressure... --- It is a very familiar term by now. All of us have said that we are pressurized at the work place. All of us say that we feel pressurized due to deliverables, dates, schedules, still-open-must-fix defects, etc. etc. etc.

Expected Behavior Under Pressure --- That you remain unaffected!!!

Actual Behavior --- Unknown... each individual behaves differently under different situations!!!

Well, let's take a look at the following few scenes that you can come across in every day life.....

Scene 1
The Time ---> A lazy weekend when you have hours to spare
The Assignment ---> You are browsing a book website to buy the latest offering from Jeffery Archer.
The Scene ---> You encounter a JavaScript error message. You take a look at the error message, choose the relevant option and keep browsing. Out of your personal interest in testing, you sometimes take notes on what the error message was, but you keep browsing the website.

Scene 2 ---
The time ---> 11.30 AM... Day 3 of your first job in your new company.
The Assignment ---> Test the client's application. The application is a website that sells books.
The scene ---> you want to prove yourself to everyone in the new world. While you are testing the book website, you come across a JavaScript error. When you test the page, you work on an all-nerves-alert mode; make notes of the JavaScript error. Of course, with the new job, you feel a bit of the nerves, but you tell yourself that it's nothing that you cannot handle.

Scene 3
The time ---> 11.30 AM... 1 Day before shipping
The Assignment ---> Test the client's application that sells books.
The Scene ---> You have been asked to provide the sign-off by the day's evening. You start testing. Every 1 hour, you get calls from your bosses asking for updates on testing. You are still explaining test progress in a phone to your bigger bosses, when you encounter the same JavaScript error.
Next steps --> you report it to the world and while the defect is being fixed and deployed, you heave a sigh of relief and go out for a cup of coffee. (I don't smoke and so, I don't have a reference to smoking over here :)!!!

Scene 4
The time ---> 11.30 AM ... 8 hours before shipping
The assignment --> testing the client's web application that sells books.
Your Client ---> Wants to ship the product 24 hours before his competitor. Keeps calling the CEO telling him that the success of the project would mean more revenue. He wants a defect free product & the product has undergone a 1000 last-minute CRs.
Your company's CEO ---> feels that by releasing in time, the company would make a million dollars more in the financial.
Your manager ---> feels that he'd get a promotion if the defect-free product ships on time.
The Scene ---> With 8 hours to launch, a build arrives for the test team and you are asked to test the booking website. Your manager makes it very clear to you that a slip-up can cost you your job in the company. Your CEO keeps asking you for what's happening. You come across the JavaScript error. But, you feel the tension while you test since you feel a 100 pairs of eyes watching you test.

The common factors and the differences from the above listed...

The Common Factors

1) The product is the same
2) The defect is the same
3) The tested product is the same
4) The Stakeholders are the same

The Difference...
The Degree of Pressure...

Where does this Pressure stem from? My thoughts listed...

Fear.... Of failing... and of succeeding.......
1) Of Failing???
Most of our managers, talk about the consequences of failure. And this thought plants itself deep-rooted in our minds. Even CEOs let talk of the wide-spread belief (yes, may people believe this still!!!) that the tester is wholly responsible for finding a defect. In the name of "sending across the right message", managers have fired testers who have been in the project for a long time, due to minimal defect leakage... Plus, add the burden that a defect leakage would also mean that all those long hours and personal sacrifices for the current project becomes wasted..... With more and more eyes watching you, fear climbs to a much higher altitude and increases in magnitude... Over time, this fear breeds into nervousness.

2) Of Succeeding???
Can someone have a fear of succeeding??? Yes.... When a project is going to end, the mind goes on visit to a few places --- 1 place is called the future, where the mind starts to thank the people who congratulate you..... While the other part of the mind has a fear of stumbling at the last hurdle.
Result ---> The tester is unable to have a rational thought, unable to make a decision on a defect and tends to think that every defect found is severe. A case of where the individual falls down due to the fear of succeeding...

3) Pressure initiated by external agencies
I don't know about you, but I have had sleepless nights prior to a very critical release. When a product goes live, there may be a zillion items that can go wrong. The importance of the occasion of the release, and the so-called expectations can do a lot of damage to the untrained mind.

How do you respond to Pressure?
Every individual have different ways of responding to pressure. Some step up, while others break down. You will have to know how you work under pressure.
And, you will have to inform your bosses as to how you work under pressure. Good Managers (and I say good managers), get the work completed by exerting the "right amount of pressure"!!!

Having said that, how do you handle pressure?
If you google, then you would get a million answers (except this blog since this ain't listed in google). But, there's only 1 person who knows it... And that 1 person is YOU. Think about how you would work under pressure and be prepared for all possible items. Be prepared to handle pressure... so when it is delivered at your door-step, you'd know how to handle it.

Some Gyan on Handling Pressure?

What do I do?
Well, I don't know how you'd handle it, but what I do is... When I come across a pressure situation, I make a conscious decision to walk away from there. By completely moving away, it offers me enough time to ensure that the steam is let off.

Controlling the mind
Some people believe in controlling the mind. Mind-Control exercises to help them focus on the current situation at hand.

A team member's role in reducing pressure...
Confiding in team members and taking their help. Works fine for a few...Some people are able to handle pressure independently and some are able to handle it as a team.

Becoming a Detached soul...
This works fine for me. Getting mentally and emotionally detached saves you from getting drained out. Once you are completely detached from the situation, from the product hype, from the expectations, you can stay in the present without letting the pressure get to you.

Fake Testers gyan
And I like giving Gyan :)!!! And please do remember, even if you don't come across this situation in your current job, it's highly likely that you'd come across this situation sometime in the near future. So, in addition to increasing your testing skills, please spare a thought, spare a moment as to how you would be handling pressure.

And use every situation to practice how you would work under pressure... It will help you to handle pressure in the upcoming days.

That's just 1 stop in your journey towards better testing...Other stops to come in later posts!!!

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