“TEST” Musings from my Convention Seat


I'm sitting in the LA Convention Center in a room with more than 5,000 other technologists on the third day of Microsoft's PDC2008 unveiling.

Almost everyone in the room is at least 7 times smarter than I am (which begs the question why I am even here -- which we'll tackle later), and I've noticed that the facial hair "quotient" is several times higher than the traditional corporate scenario (not sure why that matters, but "oh well").

This Professional Developers Conference was the launch pad for Microsoft to announce a new cloud-computing platform called AZURE™, a new post-Vista operating system called "7" (Windows 7), and the new Office -- where the desktop platform synchronizes with a pure web Office that looks and feels like the offline platform we all know and use but runs in your browser.

Google Docs beware! Zoho take notes!

Microsoft DEMONSTRATED really cool tools that allow you to watch part of a movie on your home media center and then pick up on your cell phone screen where you left off. It was great to HEAR. It will be interesting to observe the follow-up and focus that is applied to making a great vision more of a reality. (By the way, the Office web platform was light years ahead of Google docs... It was really astounding!)

So why am I here?

Well, first, I love technology... If you have been following The DEW View for any time then you will see my lists of great open-source software and cool productivity widgets. Great technology is like a great bottle of wine -- you really know when you've got a "good one"...

But... the real reason I am here is to build a community around one of GNOSO's products called NCOVER. In short, NCOVER extends industry tools around unit testing of .NET software development programs. We test the effectiveness of the "tests" -- which is actually quite important.

This applies quite a bit to the executive world of achievement, success, and public recognition! Think about this with me for a minute...

How are you testing your personal self-tests? (DEWism)

First off -- do you have self-tests? These tests are mile-markers that show direction and speed toward that direction -- hopefully our goals. How can you know you are going in the right direction if you never stop and take stock of your progress (or lack thereof).

Let's stop right here for a moment to throw this around. Many people I talk with tell me that they never stop to internalize progress because ultimately they "don't want to know". And that makes sense in a way.

It's also pretty silly.

My 18-month-old son, Dustin, still loves to play peek-a-boo with me (especially in the SUV when I'm driving)! For little Dusty, I can't see him if he covers his face with his blanket, but we all know I really can... I'll keep playing along because I love to hear little Dusty laugh.

I hate to think that I might be playing peek-a-boo with my goals... (DEWism)

Just because I cover my eyes with my "life" doesn't mean that reality has suddenly disappeared... This is true for all of us. Testing reality at stages in life is the best way align goal progress with a changing life environment and is crucial to consistent success.

Second -- you can be testing the wrong things (sometimes altogether useless things). Testing our tests is a way to improve our "reality checks". It looks at our ability to be discerning in understanding the key elements that define effective "next steps"...

As a CEO, I used KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) to chart the company's trends toward success. Most of my KPI's were horribly inefficient. In hind sight, the value of the the process was in internalization rather than in the actual output from the tests. I went to step 1.5 and never used the data I was gathering for SERIOUS course correction (Step 3 below).

The process of creating the tests for me as a CEO was more about trial-and-error than data-trending analytics. If we lost a major account or went "in the red", I would look at whatever the team was doing and try to correct actions or processes to effectuate a different result "the next time"... It was an iterative process that continually evolved up until I left just a month ago.

NOW, I am working smarter and testing quite a bit before I make fast first steps... and it's not too daunting!

Here a few quick ways to get started:

  • Step One = Start testing (take time to internalize what is happening...)
  • Step Two = Continue Testing (have a regular cycle of data gathering...)
  • Step Three = Measure Testing (refine tests that don't work well...)

As I start to test my own tests, I look forward to radioing back with what changes with my goals or perspective or success... Send me your feedback on what changes for you as you look at the effectiveness of your tests!