Reviews and Tests

Usually, a Review is understood to be to look at something again, to find any mistakes and to correct them, or to improve what might already be right. A Test can also be understood to check something again to find any mistakes, and to then accept or reject/rework the thing. Is there any difference between a Test and a Review?

Looking for synonyms for the word ‘Review’, we find – analysis, audit, check, inspect, report, revision, scrutiny, survey, test, and a few others. ‘Test’ is also among these, and it is going to be fun exploring the similarities and differences between the two. By the way, there are many kinds of reviews, as many as 14 different types (See:

Reviews are certainly done as a second (or further) look at something, but the interesting fact about a review is that it cannot be effective unless the reviewer has (prepared) another (relevant) view, and then does a re-view. It is important for the reviewer to have a (independent) view of their own about the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of what they review, before their review can effectively add value.

Ideally the reviewer should have used the same inputs and prepared the same output as the work they are reviewing, and then compared the received output/document with what they themselves arrived at and how. As the reviewer matures in their experience, they may not need to go through the entire process every time, but they still need to have their own view of what and how the output should be made. Unless they have their own view before they look at the submission, they will not be able to hold on to their own (different) view, and in all likelihood, they will get ‘absorbed’ by the submission’s approach for ‘what’ and ‘how’. In the absence of this preparation, most reviews have only one or two of ‘what’ comments, while most comments are about how it appears – the layout, cosmetics, language, etc.

Reviews must examine the decisions made and principles used by the developer, while Tests compare functionality against the requirements. This also explains why Designs need to be reviewed, but Code/Output needs to be tested to verify adherence to design and fulfilment of requirements. Of course, sometimes the code also needs to be reviewed, but that is usually to provide developmental inputs to the developer. Tests focus on the specifications and requirements, but what should Reviews focus on? Let’s look at some phenomena found in reviews.

If you look at the kinds of comments that are reported in a review, you may find that most of the comments relate to what is common for the (that particular) reviewer to look for. For instance, when I did this analysis for my own reviews, I found that I was reporting mainly language (grammar, punctuation) errors in storyboards I reviewed. Also, out of these, 90% used to be about the use of commas. It was evident that ‘language’ was something I was focused on. Similarly, someone else may have their favorite aspect as length of sentences, or voice, or you-name-it.

Another realization that emerged as I saw the reviews done in various projects, was that as a team we ended up spending more project time reviewing and correcting what we were good at, rather than review and correct what we were anyway weaker at. Reviews had a tendency to go into multiple rounds of reviewing and fixing, with new corrections coming up at every iteration. This was not because earlier reviews were not complete, but because ‘lower level’ hygiene issues needed to be resolved first for a focused ‘higher order’ review to be possible.

Generally, I realized that reviews were also not planned for any specific aspects to be focused on by reviewers. Several different reviewers gained a reputation from their own unique strengths and were fed the deliverables for review without any focus(es) defined, assuming they would respond to issues of the kind they were known to be good at avoiding in their own output. In hindsight, this seemed a quality plan ‘taken for granted’, without considering the wastage of overlapping reviews, and the risks of reviews missing out focusing on objectives required by the customer.

Tests, on the other hand, are usually conducted with a Test Plan, with Test Cases and expected Behavior. Compared to a review, a test is more defined, focused, and consistent in its outcome when done by different testers on the same output. Creativity is best reviewed, and execution is best tested.

I finally learned to plan for reviews through multiple iterations, each time focusing on a set of aspects which I found most efficient and effective to review together in the same iteration. The aspects that Reviews should focus on are those that are defined in the Quality Assurance Plan and must match the relative importance among them as needed, expected, and required by the customer. This taught me how to build a development and review plan that assured quality. I called this a Quality Plan, or QPlan, which was published as a paper at the QAI Conference on Quality in 2001.

It is interesting to observe that REVIEW is a backronym…
R.E.V.I.E.W.: Reconsidered Effective Verification of the Integrity and Excellence of Work.
T.E.S.T.: Truth Evaluated through Systematic Trial.

Here, WORK is also a backronym…
W.O.R.K.: When Outcomes Result from Knowledge.

It seems interesting to understand that if work doesn’t lead to any outcome, it is a waste of time. Also, if the work you do is not using your knowledge, then it is someone else’s work you are doing, usually as an assignment. This ties in well with the understanding of ‘karma’ in the Indian perspective.

Focuses on appropriateness of decisions and principles used in the process.Focuses on the excellence of the product in meeting requirements and specifications.
Focuses on processFocuses on product
When done by different reviewers, can result in diversely valuable insightsWhen done by different testers, will likely result in the same findings
Comparing Reviews with Tests

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Ethics in Training & Education

Ethics in training and education carry a very different significance from ethics in say, selling groceries.

The biggest difference lies in the fact that in buying groceries, the customer knows what they are looking for, what they should get, and how to qualify it, whereas in buying training or education they do not know (beforehand) how to qualify or specify what they need or should get.

They usually only have some idea of the outcome they’re looking for, like getting a job, a raise, etc., but have little or no idea about what the training input should be like.

This lays the onus of ethics of training or education on the providers – the institution, the offering, the teachers, the trainers, etc. I share below some ethical values I have seen addressed by many providers. There will certainly be more that I will have missed. Please share those in your comments and feedback.

Ethics of the Training Organization

  • Training Organization will identify the most relevant and effective Training Needs for learners as part of a sustainable society
  • Training Organization will define curriculum that are relevant and efficient in helping learners progress towards their learning objectives and goals
  • Training Organization will make all efforts to keep every promise and commitment made to Trainees – before, during, and after the training.
  • Training Organization will ensure Trainers have the required caliber for the training delivery assigned to them.

Ethics in the Offering

  • The offering (training program/intervention) will be focused on takeaways for every participant that are relevant and effective in helping them move closer to their learning objectives as easily and efficiently as possible.
  • The offering will uphold all applicable Laws of Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
  • The offering will focus on meeting every commitment made or implied to the learners.

Ethics of Trainers

  • Trainer will make all efforts to demonstrate relevant, current, ASKBs (Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, and Behaviors) for helping the trainee in meeting their Learning Objectives and Goals.
  • Trainers will make all necessary efforts to:
    • Appreciate the goals and learning objectives of learners.
    • Appreciate the trust and faith reposed in them by their learners, and never ever misuse it or betray the learner.
    • Identify the Training Needs of learners. Distinguish between learners’ needs, expectations, and requirements, and collate those that will benefit the learners the most in their context, while being socially sustainable.
    • Identify all subject matter that is relevant to meeting the Training Needs – research for the latest developments/implementations/developments in progress at the time.
    • Determine the facts and truth in subject matter. Share only what is unequivocally true with learners.
    • Develop the training strategies most suitable and efficient for learners – Presentations, Reading materials, Audio, Video, Activities, Debriefs, Simulations, etc.
    • Declare and clarify what objectives learners can expect to be met.
    • Use the training strategies to help the learners assimilate the relevant subject matter.
    • Involve every learner, and provide a safe and fair learning and assessment environment.
    • Give learners a sense of closure in meeting their learning objectives.

Ethics of Learners

  • Learners will engage and interact with the trainer, to enhance their learning experience.
  • Learners will pay attention and attempt to comprehend the experience they receive from the trainer/teacher.
  • Learners will diligently follow instructions of the trainer/teacher regarding their learning.
  • Learners will deploy their learning in endeavors which drive and support the sustainability of society.

If these seem to be too many, try going through them again and identify those which can be deleted as they may be redundant or unimportant.

I would love to hear your feedback and comments.

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Also: “An Industry of Hope, Belief, Trust, Integrity, and Responsibility”

“Ethics at Work”

Driving discipline

Which of the following driving disciplines do you follow, or see being followed?  Add 1 point for every check. (Points are for traffic that drives on the left of the road, else switch right with left)

  1. Traffic on your right always has Right-of-way – in lanes, at a round-about, or at an intersection
  2. At an intersection the one who reaches it first, gets right-of-way to cross it
  3. Always overtake from the right
  4. Don’t overtake a vehicle which is overtaking another vehicle itself, or if there is oncoming traffic
  5. Distance from the vehicle in front of you should be enough to let you see its rear wheels touching the road
  6. When going down an incline, shift down to the same gear you would use when climbing it
  7. Instead of applying the brakes, try shifting to a lower gear and letting the engine do the braking (release the clutch)
  8. Don’t ever switch off the engine to free-roll down an incline
  9. Don’t drive with the clutch pressed halfway while cruising
  10. Maintain your position in you lane and switch lanes carefully watching other traffic
  11. You must not move to your right if a vehicle is overtaking you
  12. Thumb rule for shifting gears – shift gears according to speed should be 16Xgear kms/hr, i.e. upto 16 kms/hr move up from the 1st gear, upto 32 kms/hr imove up from 2nd gear, upto 48 kms/hr move up from 4rd gear, upto 64 kms/hr move up from 4th gear, and upto 80 kms/hr move up from 5th gear (if there is one)
  13. When facing oncoming traffic at night, never look at their headlights, instead keep your eyes to the left verge of the road you are on
  14. Try driving with foresight of what others are going to do/doing on the road, and take proactive measures so they don’t need to change their path

These are lessons gathered over years and generations… If you’d like to add some points, please leave a comment.

If you got a score of:

More than 10Bravo! Way to be…
6-10Great, you must already be a driver blessed by others on the road
3-5Hmm, you must definitely try more of these to get a better drive
Below 3You probably never knew these, but now you do

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