Why was that bug put in code?

I need to fill in some gaps regarding the quote taken from my recent talk at the BBC Develop 2014 conference.

I told a story of when I was asked the question:

“Why wasn’t that bug found in test?”

I responded:

“Why did you put that bug in the code?”

I have to confess, this isn’t my default response to that question, but as always there’s a story behind the story…

I was supposed to provide some context & background to the second story in the talk, but unfortunately nerves got the better of me & I ended up racing over that bit.

I should have stepped out of the conversation because I obviously was not OK with my feelings of being blamed.

Just goes to show, even after 2 years of trying to debug my conversations, I’m still not very good at it.

What follows is the context behind that second story which I inadvertently omitted from my talk.

So, the development team as a whole was running too fast, pretending to be agile & failing. Code was being delivered into the test environment that resulted in app not even loading – the Programmers had decided not to run their automated tests as they were taking too long….

Testers weren’t getting a chance to test deeply or thoroughly, but the launch date couldn’t be shifted so we did the best we could, with the time, people & resources we had at our disposal.

The question came from the Dev Lead who knew exactly what stress we were under & what part his team were playing in that stress.

We were not playing a team game & lines were being drawn in the sand.

There was also some stuff I removed from the talk prior to delivery, including some tips for the sender of the message. During rehearsals, it felt like the tips were tagged on & distracted from the main message.

One of the tips was to avoid asking “Why” orientated questions as these skip the intake & meaning stages, jumping straight to significance and as such they carry a certain level of judgment.

In retrospect, debugging the conversation by changing the “Why” question to another investigative question (such as “How” or “What”) could be the main focus for me in the future.

Certainly, the Dev Lead in this story didn’t appreciate being asked a “Why” question.

As for further iterations of this talk, some feedback I received suggested my second story should be a successfully debugged conversation – I best set to work having that conversation…

Slides of the BBC Develop conference talk will be available shortly.