Did we get it all wrong?

On Success Measure Vs Bug count and a brand new approach to building Successful products

Back from Potsdam (Germany) where I attended “Agile Testing Days”, I now had 48 hours to reflect on what I saw and heard.

Gojko Adzic presented a concept that I believe could represent a paradigm shift not only in testing but in the whole software delivery approach.


He says that we all got it wrong when applying one of the quadrants of Agile testing because in quadrant Q3 we have been focusing on criticizing the Product based on our internal understanding of how to build a successful product and paying little or no attention to the final customers’ opinion on whether the product is useful and successful or not.

To visualize this, Gojko came up of with a model for software quality that mirrors the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where the highest level in Maslow’s model (Self Actualization)

corresponds to Successful in Gojko’s Software Quality Model. In this model the lower levels are a necessity for the upper ones to be relevant, i.e. if a product is not Deployable and Functionally OK, we should not care whether it is performant and secure or if it is useful because obviously if we cannot deploy it, it won’t get the chance to perform and be useful, you get the idea.

Looking at the pyramid we immediately realize that as a software delivery team we can only assure the 3 bottom levels of the pyramid and to assure our product is Useful and Successful we need feedback from the final customer. We must involve our final customers in the feedback loop on our products, only they will really know if our product is useful and only they can make it successful or not. Gojko goes one step further and says that when measuring the levels we can apply a different level of focus. Maybe the bottom 2 levels should be delivered to be “good enough” moving up the pyramid we need to aim to “the more the better” as we get closer to Successful.

The most impressive part is yet to come and it is basically Gojko’s approach to measuring the Successful bit of the pyramid. He introduced a strategic planning technique based on 4 questions that he named Impact Mapping. Gojko says “An impact map is a visualisation of scope and underlying assumptions, created collaboratively by senior technical and business people“. In my opinion, the most revolutionary side of Gojko’s thinking is on his focus on behaviour change. In the third question he asks “How should our actors’ behaviour change?”. By focusing on this aspect we are able to visualize the impacts that we want to see as a result of our product/idea.

Using Impact Mapping we are able to visualize and test our assumptions in our path to success. By allowing assumptions testing, Impact Mapping helps find the shortest and cheapest path to product success, not bad at all…

Impact Mapping is a brand new approach and Gojko, says he doesn’t know yet if it will apply to every area of software delivery, it is up to the community now to test it, define applicability boundaries if any and improve it, you can count on me Gojko, I am up for it!

BTW, before you ask, yes I live in the real world.

9 thoughts on “Did we get it all wrong?

  1. Gojko did raise a few good questions with his talk, for sure and something to think about. However, I think we really need to realize that the quadrants is a model for thinking about tests. It was never meant to measure success. The other thing Gojko didn’t mention – and maybe it was on purpose. Quadrant 3 also talks about tests like User Acceptance tests, alpha, beta – in fact any kind that critique the product – it doesn’t restrict by who does it. I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water, but indeed look at impact mapping as another tool. The tests that are usually displayed in the quandrants are examples, not absolutes.

    • Agree 100% Janet, I haven’t ripped down the quadrants posters in the office just yet! 🙂 To me they are a powerful visualization of the breadth of agile testing and they also show the importance of balancing test efforts. Your quadrants of Agile testing and Gojko’s pyramid of successful software have both their applicability field and I don’t believe one negates the other. Thanks for your comment.

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