Testers are Change Agents, Too!

Every project I’m engaged with eventually asks, “Who should we ask to help test the change?” Leaders want to use their best people – preferably those who have already have some background with the change. People who typically follow the rules. 

We need a few angry testers – folks who will do their best to break the system! 

Despite the best intentions of designers, when people get their hands on something new, they will use it in ways you don’t expect (there was a story of a grandparent who received an iPad for Christmas and said it was the best cutting board they had ever received). Testers bring unique perspectives and we need to allow them to push the boundaries.

To do that, remind them of their main purpose: To prevent their team members and friends from receiving a crappy product. The more they test the limits and approach it in unique ways, the more bugs that get sorted out ensuring the best experience at rollout.

Who should be a tester?

  • Comfortable exploring: “What happens when I do it this way or click this button?”
  • Likes learning new things (tools / processes)
  • Has been around a while and knows the business 
  • Is often asked to help others on the job
  • A positive person who wouldn’t get frustrated with encountering bugs and issues (since that’s the point of testing); someone that understands finding the issues adds value and makes things better.

However, the opposite is also useful, so I will often suggest having some people that have these traits:

  • Not a fan of this change – someone who needs to be convinced
  • New to the organization – no preconceptions and still learning
  • Never asked to help others (let’s change that!)

One size does not fit all. Testers are change agents, so having diverse participation equips people with different spheres of influence to go back into the business and share what was hopefully a positive experience. If we do this well:

  • They socialize the change: It’s not so bad…I figured it out.
  • They become supports during transition, helping peers adapt. 
  • They might even become a trainer!

One last tip: Set the right expectations and be specific. Testing is meant to uncover problems. “Do not tell your peers it’s a disaster because something didn’t work as expected – that’s the whole point of the exercise! Instead be proud of the number of problems you find, because for every one you uncover, it saves time and frustration for your peers. If you are getting frustrated at all, please come talk to me.”

Make it fun! Run a contest to recognize top bug finders! My testers always have a good time and that’s what they share with others. When you associate change with good feelings, you are on track for maximum adoption!

Thoughtfully yours,