Lateral Tester Exercise I – Status Report Virus Rikard Edgren

I’m re-reading deBono’s excellent Lateral Thinking.
Here is a Generate Alternatives exercise for software testers; try to think of as many different alternatives as possible.
There is no right answer, the focus is to train yourself in re-structuring information.
And at the same time come up with many different ideas that might generate fruitful thoughts.
And no, there is no more information, do the best with what you have.

The release meeting starts in one hour.
You’re just about to put the final touch on the status report.
The status report template has been virus-infected, and all your data is lost.
What do you do?

Do this for yourself, or put a comment if you want to contribute to thoughts around status reporting.

Martin Jansson November 18th, 2010

Tell the truth about the missing status report. Ask if they want to postpone the meeting until you have the written report ready or if you should do your best and focus on the highlights.

Go through the key risk areas that you remember.

Go through what you feel and think about the release.

Ask the the stake holders what other information they want and try to provide it there and now.

Ask for improvements on the status report and its content.

Henrik Emilsson November 18th, 2010

Use last status report, rename it.

Tell the truth and then report the status orally. You will probably remember the most important things, as well as some less important stuff that will give a broad enough picture.

Go through the bug system and find one showstopper that will postpone the release (and thereby the meeting).

Tell them the three most important things that testing contributed with in the release.

Go down to the testlab and take a picture of the whiteboard where you keep your low-tech dashboard. Present this at the meeting.

Ask all in the meeting to come down to the testlab and go through the status by looking at the whiteboard with its low-tech dashboard. Use the hour before the meeting to prepare the test group on that there will be some questions from the release team. After going through the dashboard, tell the release team that the team is ready to answer questions that them might have.

Gather all testers and compile a brief status report by letting all testers contribute with their knowings and findings.

Gather the test group and let them all write a chapter each in a Google Docs document where all are editing at the same time; thus creating a new status report from scratch.

Torbjörn Ryber November 19th, 2010

I agree – it is one of his best books. The other must read is the six thinking hats. The others he has written are not that good. Right now I am reading Gut Feeling and just finsihed reading Blink. Tjose books are about making quick decisions based on little facts and fits this exercise well.

So here is my top ten list. I did not read the other two comments in advance. Top ten in the regard of first imagined solutions that is. Not in prioritized order.

1.) What I personalyy would do is to take the latest correct version and update it. I usually keep reporting on a high level so that would not be a problem. If needed take a list of open critical bugs from the bug-system.
2.) Contact IT-support to see if they have a recent back-up.
3.) Google that specific virus to see if there is a quick remedy. Maybe the data has not disappeared but font color changed to white or data is hidden somewhere.
4.) Gather all testers, find out what info they have and create a high-level report from what you know by heart or recent other docs.
5.) Immediately contact the PM or whoever you think is the most important person and inform about the situation. If that person considers test report a vital piece of information maybe the meeting can be postponed for another day.
6.) Find the last version of the statusreport before the correupt one – do a quick update on the most important stuff
7.) Close the status report without saving and then re-open it, maybe the old data is still there
8.) Panic, run away screaming. (Maybe not the ultimate solution.)
9.) Have a coffee, don´t get stressed, the release meeting is just a formal thing anyhow.
10.) Try to find out who to put the blame on to cover your own neck.

Rikard Edgren November 20th, 2010

Here are mine, including other’s answers, in length order:

* go home
* disarm the virus
* what is a status report?
* spread the virus to the others
* pretend as nothing and see what happens
* I know it by heart and can re-write it in 10 minutes
* not a problem, everyone already have up-to-date information
* I think “what is the most important test I can run right now?”
* I just re-run the tool that generates the whole status report automatically
* the process requires us to send the report three days before the meeting, so why was I even opening the document, no new information appears the last three days