Open University T306

T306 Block 1: Activity 31

In your Learning Album list some of the practices you engage in personally and professionally. Suggest some measures of performance for these practices, i.e. how do you know if you do them well?

So, this activity is trying to get me to think about being a practitioner of something, how I do things and how do I measure my success in those things. This isn’t something I’ve done much thinking about in the past but it’s something that sounds like I should have thought about.

Let’s take my current career: software testing. I am a software tester, someone who tests software. Test software for what purpose? Well, in order to make sure that software produced is fit for purpose perhaps, or that it doesn’t contain many bugs. There’s lots of discussion about this sort of thing out there but I haven’t really engaged with them. I like my job, I bugger about with software all day making sure that it works within a certain set of parameters.

How do I know that I’ve done it well? Is it if I’ve raised a few dozen defects and annoyed all the developers? Is it if the software is rolled out into the wild and accepted by the customer? Is it if I feel that I’ve made a positive influence on the development of the product or made some other contribution that’s been recognised by my management? It’s all of these things, and many other things. There are all sorts of ways I can measure success, and they’re not all related to the software I’m testing.

For instance, I could say that I’ve had a successful day if I’ve managed to avoid doing any work all day, drunk lots of coffee and spent large parts of an afternoon playing Bejewelled on Facebook without getting caught. I wouldn’t actually feel happy about that (of course!) but some people might find that to be quite a successful day.

I actually feel that I’ve done well if I’ve learned something new, applied it to my job and succeeded in something new. I feel successful if some tests I’ve written are reviewed by an analyst and I do not need to do any updates. I get a sense of satisfaction if a colleague requires help and I’m able to provide it. I think I’ve had a good day, and done well, if I’ve had a good day (if you see what I mean).

This question is not as easy to answer as I thought. There are so many ways of measuring success in my job. It’s just as well I’m doing a course in managing complexity…

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