July 21, 2023

If It's Worth Doing, It's Worth Testing

“First law of Bad Management: If something isn’t working, do more of it.”
― Tom DeMarco

I’m a programmer. I build software. One thing ingrained in me after all these years of software engineering is this: test your work.

Testing can’t just be an afterthought. It’s a crucial step in the process. That’s why good developers embrace concepts like test-driven development or TDD.

And testing isn’t limited to software development. You can apply many of the same concepts throughout your life. Often, all you need to do is specify your expected results and verify them as you go.

Of course, this readily applies to things like diet (step on the scale each week) and exercise (measure strength increases). It applies to less obvious endeavors too. For example:

  • Cooking — Do a trial run of your new recipe with a small group of friends before the big party.
  • Hobbies — Run an experiment and borrow equipment to see if you like that intriguing activity before you “invest” all your money.
  • Raising kids — Ask your older kids for “user feedback” about chores and family activities. They may surprise you with their insight.
  • Public speaking — A/B test opening jokes or witty anecdotes and adjust your speech accordingly.
  • Power outages — Flip off the master breaker and do some edge case testing for minor disaster prep. Just make sure you remember where you put the flashlight.

There are lots more too. Sure, it sounds a bit nerdy, but it’s an integral part of continuous improvement.

If it’s important, test it.