There is something that every industry has in common. No matter who you are, where you’re from or what business you’re in, we could ALL benefit from adopting a culture of communication and collaboration.
This is by no means a new concept. In fact, over the years it has become a veritable white noise in the software development arena. But a recent experience has really made me stop and realise the true power of collaboration and communication. And all it took was one conversation with a colleague…
To set the scene, Open Box has been utilising test automation since 2012, and we have consistently come up against the same challenges from the word go. It turns out that these challenges stemmed from the fact that we have a company filled with incredibly focused people. So focussed, in fact, that not much time was spent looking at what others are doing and asking ‘why’.
Developers are good at developing. Testers are good at testing. So while our developers are good at writing unit tests, they don’t necessarily know what to test for. Conversely, our testers are good at determining what to test, but they don’t know how to build the unit tests. We were headed to point where these silos were making our processes slower and less efficient than we would have liked.
After chatting to a colleague about these concerns, he suggested that we try an experiment where we break down the perceived barriers between the two disciplines in order to encourage better communication. In our experiment, we asked everyone to leave there comfort zones in favour of a place where they could share their knowledge, share their concerns and ask tough questions. For a few weeks, our testers created empty unit test stubs into which they would insert relevant comments. Through collaboration, the testers were able to show the developers what they needed to test for. And together, they would build out the unit tests.
The results were astounding! To test this specific piece of functionality would previously have taken three people about twenty hours. Through our collaboration experiment, we were able to cut the testing time down to two hours of one person’s time. This process has now become quicker and more efficient than ever, and it’s all thanks to the power of communication and collaboration.
Naturally, any culture change comes with its own set of challenges. There are egos, silos, and the good old human tendency to get stuck in a rut. In fact, it takes the buy-in of every team member to achieve success. More than that, it requires a colossal mind-shift from each individual.
This experiment changed my perspective too, on a personal level. I have realised that I am surrounded by people who have the potential to challenge and inspire me. Together we can access the most amazing collective intelligence… a combination of different skills, ideas, insights and creativity.
My new challenge is to figure out how to push this further… how to integrate this culture into every facet of what we do. Because no matter what your role, no matter what your industry, it’s important to keep an eye out for opportunities to collaborate. At Open Box, our door is always open to lend new perspectives and industry insights.
We deliver custom software solutions and services to owners and operators of Real Estate