The Cassandra Syndrome: The Tester's Dilemma

Rick Hower, Digital Media Group, Inc.

In Homer's Iliad, we read of Cassandra, who had the gift of prophecy and the curse of having no one listen to her. Many testers have felt like Cassandra, but why? When engaged in what many perceive as "negative" activities–predicting problems, discovering defects, and reporting incidents–testers often are seen as negative people who don't make a "positive" contribution to the project. While most team members focus on making software work, testers focus on what doesn't work. Rick Hower warns that these seemingly contradictory perspectives have the potential to interfere with team communication, sometimes resulting in testers being labeled as "not team players" and literally being ignored. Illustrated by examples from the trenches, Rick shares what we can learn from Cassandra's story–the roles of denial and motivation in software projects, different project roles and their contributions to the syndrome, the power of appreciation, what NOT to say, and finally a necessary tester "attitude adjustment."

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