EuroSTAR: Monty Python’s Flying Test Lab

Rob Sabourin presented the Monthy Python’s Flying Test Lab at the EuroSTAR conferece on Tuesday during the second keynote.

Rob Sabourin showed a scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail, where guards where instructed with very unambiguous requirements. Sabourin explained that every sentence in the video were dealing about refining software requirements. Sabourin explained that rather than ticking of stakeholders by telling them that their requirements are ambiguous work with them to build a model and understand what they mean in first place.

Sabourin asked the audience what the requirements were, and which additional things they noticed for clearing up the ambiguous requirements from the movie scene. Among the answers were to ask why, to repeat what they said to you in your own words by paraphrasing,

Sabourin showed another scene from the Holy Grail. Sabourin explained that during weighing the possible witch the tool was distracting the crowd. Similarly tools distract people from doing proper software testing. The argumentation in that scene is false reasoning. The false reasoning presented by a knight in shiny armor suggests that it’s correct. This incongruent chain of reasoning is found in many testing companies nowadays as well.

In most companies the insurance companies are abused to test the application to seek false confidence. Having a test case for everything in your application does not mean that it’s without defects in first place. Sabourin explained that he learned to challenge this false confidence.

The Taunting was the last scene that Sabourin showed. He asked what exactly developers are throwing over the wall. Maybe it’s a living cow, or rather a duck. As a tester can we run away from it? Sabourin explained that rather than finishing off what there job is, they throw sometimes bugs over the wall – mostly in waterfall like processes.

Sabourin concluded with another scene from Monty Python from the world war. Trading languages was the underlying point. He challenged the audience by asking whether they understood their customer, and whether the customers understood them. Instead of building a trading languages with our metrics and terminology, we should start working together with our customers, and speaking their language.

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One thought on “EuroSTAR: Monty Python’s Flying Test Lab”

  1. Thanks Markus, I’m very grateful for you taking the time out to share this. Looks like it was an excellent speech. Hopefully I’ll make the next Eurostar but with the blog post’s like this & the twitter feed I feel like I’m still gaining some benefit from it :-)

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