We are coming into November again and that means in the UK the poppy appeal which remembers the fallen soldiers. I think this is wonderful, not just from a remembrance point of view but also on the concept of trying to learn from the past. And I am not a history buff. I thought to take this opportunity to reflect on our own need for learning in our day to day environment of course both personally and for the business.
It is important or shall I say crucial to learn from your mistakes but at the same time what went well!!. Sometimes that happens with failed bids analysis, or post mortems once projects have been completed. While they are good instruments to learn from our mistakes they probably only look at what happened in the last month or any momentous errors that were encountered. Learning will only happen on the things we remember and it’s human behaviour that mostly focusses on the bad things that happened.
At least with Agile, these learning events are no longer at the end of the project but instead at the end of each sprint with the retrospectives, but I still have a problem with retrospectives. It provides learning moments from the activities that happened in the last 1, 2 or 3 weeks. The frequency of this is great as everything will generally be still fresh in the memory but what happened to the retrospectives from the previous sprint or further back… We learned but did we forget?
With test automation, it is important to remember how you got to the decisions. Writing down the criteria you selected the tool on and what the tool(s) performed against it. Plan your automation implementation properly and involve all stakeholders… The time that only the test team were involved with test automation is far gone. As mentioned above it is not just the mistakes that are important, but also confirm the right decisions the project made so make sure you have all the information locked down somehow (and that does not mean locked down in peoples brains!).
Especially with test tools constantly evolving you might find yourself in a position that the current tool does not fulfil your needs anymore and you might need to choose another tool. If your test automation framework was set up correctly and flexible enough you can switch tools, even if that would mean some extra development work. It is a simple cost vs benefit analysis in the end.
These learning moments or moments of remembrance are not just about what has happened but also how we should deal with these things going forward, learn from where we came from. I will leave you with a simple message: Happiness is not making the same mistakes twice.