I am writing this from a dark place. That isn’t my solution to rising energy prices, but instead from the loss of my wife. I mention this as I think it is relevant to the changes that my career has taken and what I want to talk about today.
Change can be hard. It is even harder when it isn’t something that you’d planned for or really wanted.
The first company that I joined was using practices most accurately described as waterfall. After many years of development hell, the product was finally released and a shift to more agile working was on the cards, but it was too late and we went bust. It was interesting seeing the impact of how we worked and the challenges in the introduction of “agile” within our teams.
When I started at this company I was fresh out of Uni and whilst a shy, timid, geek, I did live rather carefree and lacked purpose beyond my work. My days would involve working, watching trash TV and playing games or going out drinking and this was the case until right at the end when I met a wonderful person, Hannah.
After this I started a new role in a new sector, testing surveillance systems. The company had been stuck in a bit of development hell but were finally nearing release. As that completed, the company moved to use (some form of) agile working. I think lean, or scrum of scrums (I get confused over terms at times). This was an interesting period and people responded well. Over the next year or two the company really seemed to improve its ways of working. I was seeing some of the advantages of agile working and whilst I was still technically in a separate test team, I got to work closely with the developers and really liked that.
That said, I wasn’t enjoying work. Testing practices were far too dependant on writing lots of documents, executing what is written in the documents then writing more documents on what was done. My frustrating for this and over time my interest in C# (from hobby game dev) led to me moving to development.
During this period of my life I found that it seemed to all come together. I was happy with my partner, evolving into a better person, enjoying my hobby game dev and happy at work. Whilst there were ups and downs, it always felt like I was moving forward in life. I ended up getting married and life was pretty darn good. During this time my work had also evolved with using a Kanban workflow and teams with embedded testers. That worked really well and I did really life being in the team, even on those days when the project sucked.
Strangely I started feeling down. Missing a “purpose”. I’d been encouraged to push more to learn and develop my skills as a software dev, but I didn’t care about it. At retrospectives I cared more about testing practices. In fact half the time it was testing that was the better part of my job, as opposed to code reviews or writing documentation.
I made some bold decisions by moving back to test and also sought mental health support. 2019 was the year when I took control. This was followed by the year of chaos with the pandemic, a takeover at work, change of teams and with that a move to scrum (with myself taking on the scrum master role as well as QA). It was hard and whilst I hated how changes just happened with no clear plan, once I managed to adapt it was a great time. I began to feel more at home with my teams, my wife and also my career. The Ministry of Testing became a big part of my life over the next few years – in particular the fact that I could downloads LOADS of great talks and watch them whenever. It felt like everything was closer, together and much better… even when the world had us all apart. Life was at its best.
Then the past 3 months happened. Hannah died during the xmas period. We don’t know why. My life was turned upside down and on top of that this month I’ve moved to a new (to me) project in a sort of different organisation. The project that I’m joining has been in development hell for years. There’s major issues (in my view) with the testing practices. I now find myself sitting at home, by myself, watching trash TV and playing games knowing that the next day I’m working in a scenario that I thought I’d avoided twice already.
Change is hard and it can be daunting. However, like it or not, we must go on. (I think)
Whilst I can never fix the loss of Hannah, I’m trying to refocus on my work and testing. I am looking to use whatever little energy I have to try and guide this new organisation. Rather than trying to adapt to the changes, can I make a difference and be a positive force for change?
Providing I don’t get myself in trouble for writing about this, over the next year I hope to share how this goes. If I am able to say that I’ve managed to make something of the changes going on, well that’s something.
P.s. apologies if this is a bit too Dear Diary. It is good to say these things.