Gonzo QA III: Fear and loathing after dark

Dateline: London, June 2007

During the day stuff happens and I deal with it, but when the sun goes down and the shadows lengthen, doubt sets in. Andy Grove said only the paranoid survive. What did he mean by that? Should I read his book? What if I don’t?(1) Certainly it always worries me to have nothing to worry about. What have I overlooked? What disaster should I be preparing for rather than complacently sitting here watching a Norwegian ski down the up escalators at Angel on YouTube(2)? Getting fired, obviously. As Head of QA, it isn’t enough for my group to be more or less fully utilised testing stuff for the next quarter. I must plan for what needs to happen next! I need to lead from the front and do some real work! I need to check it’s all happening according to plan and take corrective action accordingly! I got that from Deming and he got it from Shewhart and they both seemed to know what they were talking about, so it’s good enough for me(3).

Gonzo QA II: Fear and loathing in the afternoon

Dateline: London, March 2007

Not much time to eat lunch today. When I got down to the canteen, three at the foosball table were looking for a fourth and I hate to disappoint. Twenty minutes later my partner and I have lost the tournament two games to one, but by Golly, we made them sweat. I climb the stairs back to the fourth floor thinking about the test plan I have been commissioned to write this afternoon; well, start to write this afternoon at any rate. Half a day for a test plan is always a bit optimistic; three days is more like it. Half a day is only usually long enough for a checklist. I wonder what Richard is doing sat at my desk and remember that I moved a few days ago. Finally back at my new desk on the third, I find a note on my wrist rest with “Call me” scribbled on it, no name, no number, no clue. I ask my group who put it there but they look at me blankly. Someone suggests a member of finance rumoured to own an invisibility cloak, but I find this unlikely. He last left his office in 1998 and all the evidence suggests he hasn’t left it since. I bin the note and then take it out of the regular bin and put it in the recycling bin. Hey, I have a conscience, you know.

Gonzo QA: Fear and loathing in the morning

Dateline: London, December 2006

I arrive at work somewhat frazzled. I had set off an hour early in order to storm up a mountain of work before the mist had lifted but events have conspired to make me arrive at my desk 30 minutes later than usual. I log on to my PC knowing there will be a 15 minute delay between entering my username and password and seeing the desktop, due to network policies, virus scans and Windows patches. Every day this happens. Note to self: raise this to IT Support once more. Two hundred people at an average of £50 per billable hour waiting 15 minutes is, ooh, £2,500 per day lost income, around £625,000 per year. I’d commit to fixing that for half the price, cash in hand, no questions asked. Fortunately my diary is paper-based and the café around the corner is staffed by Croatians with a vigorous approach to coffee-making. As I wait, I plan my day with a vengeance, knowing that whoever booked me yesterday for work due today will get priority over anyone trying to book me today for work due yesterday. I kill the next 14 minutes by taking a walk round the building. There’s no one in. Reasons will vary from “my goldfish was poorly in the night” through “my social worker wouldn’t bail me” to “I forgot”. “I was working till midnight” there’s no argument with. Commitment to the work, each other, the client is all.