being paid to use our brains. So how do you use your brain to say, "I see a hole over here. There's something I want to be able to do that looks better. How do I correlate that, how do I realign that, with what my company pays me to do?"
Carol: And would you say there's a bit of a misalignment between thinking in the box and thinking outside of the box, as has been mentioned? Is it a problem that when you have a job description…Say you have a job description that you are a programmer level 1 or a programmer level 2, or a software tester level 1. Doesn't that imply, in and of itself, what you should be doing?
Johanna: It certainly does imply part of what you should be doing. I see a lot of job descriptions, which is why I'm writing a book about hiring people. But the problem with job descriptions is that they're either so vague as to be useless, or they're a laundry list of technical skills that have absolutely not much to do with how people do their jobs. So I've seen a lot of job descriptions that aren't very helpful to people. Certainly not the people doing the jobs and not their peers, not their managers. So one of the things that you want to look at is, if you have, if you're lucky enough at least to have a job description, even if it is a laundry list or something big, is does it point you in the right direction? Do you at least know that if you're a developer, does your boss actually want you to find the defects before you check the code in, and before the testers get to it? If you're a tester, are you supposed to actually plan your testing first, or are you encouraged to do more exploratory testing, and then do some planning? What are the things that your organization feels most comfortable with, and does what they feel comfortable with match what you need to be able to do to be successful? See, there's a potential for a lot of mismatches all along the way. But let's at least look for what's in the job description, versus what you need to do to be successful in the organization.
Carol: Sometimes it sounds like you may get a job description that on paper says you're supposed to do all these things, and this is probably true at any job. But then on the job, in actuality, in practice, your job may not be anything like what your job description actually says.
Johanna: Oh, absolutely. And all of you who are QA managers, or QE managers, Quality Assurance or Quality Engineering managers out there, you're probably wondering exactly the same thing. I think one of the reasons that I no longer work inside organizations is I was working as a QA manager, that was my title, Quality Assurance, and I thought it was absolutely my job to be gathering metrics, to be suggesting areas for process improvement, to be doing things that would make a difference further down the line. Not so much necessarily in projects that were already almost complete, but certainly in projects down the line. And the first time I came up with a metrics memo, my management came to me and said, "Never give us a metrics memo again. If we don't know about it, we can't be sued." And a lot of senior management seem to think that's an acceptable way to run a company. It wasn't