Pettson & Findus Testing

At one point I calculated that less than 2% of my work time was test execution

There is so much more to the test profession than meets the eye, and I would like to illustrate this with a classic Swedish children’s book, written by Sven Nordqvist: 

Pannkakstårtan (The Pancake Pie)

The TL;DR version goes like this: 

Pettson and his cat Findus are planning to bake a birthday cake. But in order to do that they need to scare off a bull, in order to get a ladder, in order to reach the attic, in order to get a fishing rod, in order to get a key, in order to gain access to the workshop, in order to fix a flat tire on the bike, in order to get to the store and buy flour. 

In this example, baking the birthday cake equals test execution. There are eight (8) necessary steps blocking test execution, all of which need to be fixed before the “actual” work can commence. 

Pettson and Findus at last baking their pancake pie

The Misunderstanding

But wait, the book doesn’t end there!

Unfortunately for Pettson, there is a mishap, and he needs to clean up a mess of eggs and mud. Pettson, wise from the previous mistakes of not having everything in order, decides to clean up the mess. At that very moment Pettson’s neighbor pays him a visit, and he mistakenly believes that the egg-mud-mix is a pancake batter. Mud pancakes? Pettson has truly lost it this time. The neighbor thus gossips to the whole village that Pettson is crazy.

The moral of this story

It’s easy to get stuck in the idea that testing is just pressing some UI buttons and seeing whether something works or not. But quality work starts so much earlier in the development cycle. There are test activities and quality interventions that are ideally done even before development even starts! 

Sidenote: There’s a reason why this book is a classic in Sweden. If you have kids and haven’t read it: please do! It’s hilarious for kids and adults alike.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Cindy

    Thank you for a great analogy. I often feel like Pettson:) it is also so difficult to share your status update as a tester when others are easily bored by all the steps you needed to take before even starting to execute a test. All they really want to know are your results. Even if there are no blockers thinking through your scenario to ensure it proves your hypothesis and recording all the details is a challenging cognitive process that your colleagues (like Pettson’s neighbour) often misinterpret as crazy…

  2. Exactly! We exist in a system and what we do is dependent on the system. It is like trying to understand why an ant move as it does in 3D space without having access to the information about the forest floor.

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