Testing and the creeping death.

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Photo by Daja Gellerova on Unsplash

The chest pain had struck her the first time at the swimming hall. A small sting in the upper abdomen must have been just a cramp. Maybe too much coffee had been consumed earlier in the morning? They taught it in schools already that it passes if you only increase the pace. Except that it did not. She had to stop and take a breath.

Some time passed and even climbing the staircase to the office had become hard. Finally, that small sting in the upper abdomen came daily on the second floor, and even her shoulders seemed stiff. She had to start taking the lift upstairs.

She booked the doctors appointment at the last minute because of an upset stomach. Heartburn they say, but the antacids didn’t work this time. The doctor concluded it to be an acute heart attack.

In the end, there was a fine line between life and death. A matter of minutes.

I held my breath while she told me the story. The mind, it seems, is quite skilled in blocking out unpleasant facts.

‘So was it a surprise for you?’ I asked. ‘No. All the symptoms were there’ she told me. ‘Probably had been there for years…’

It is possible to notice the symptoms early enough if we only looked carefully. Inside our heads, there is a small, fearful voice which assures us that everything is still just fine.

The creeping cardiovascular disease or Alzheimer’s. End of marriage. Cancer. Alcoholism. Bankruptcy. A software project that is about to crash and burn.

Life is a game of chance. None of the things on the list above are in our control. We can only hack the odds to our favor. But we first need to face the truth. It requires both daring and seeing.

Let me explain what this means in my profession of software testing.

Testing is a tool to dispell assumptions and excuses. It is a tool to see what is so. And once we know, it becomes a tool to tweak the odds so that your project should not suffer a stroke just yet.

Listen carefully to the people around you. Learn first to recognize their excuses, and then your own. Then the last and most challenging phase is to do what works. Do the right thing even if it is the hard thing.

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