68: Jeff Sussna: Cybernetics & Chaos Monkeys: The Future of QA

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Designing Delivery: Rethinking IT in the Digital Service Economy

Is QA dead? You might be surprised by the answer.

Today we talk with Jeff Sussna, author of Designing Delivery: Rethinking IT in the Digital Service Economy, who shares with us his view of Cybernetics and 21st century IT, and what happens to QA in a DevOps world.

The book covers how service quality is about more than designing capabilities, but is about making — and keeping –promises to customers. In this episode you’ll learn how to make IT a full partner in the ongoing conversations you have with your customers, and why QA is an important part of this transformation.

So listen up and discover the ways in which QA is more important than ever, as well as how QA test engineers will actually thrive in the years to come.

About Jeff


Jeff Sussna is an internationally recognized systems thinker and IT expert. He is Founder and Principal of Ingineering.IT, a Minneapolis consulting firm that helps companies adopt 21st-century IT practices. Jeff has nearly 30 years of experience leading high-performance teams across the Development/QA/Operations spectrum.

He has done work for a diverse range of companies, including Fortune 500 enterprises, major technology companies, software product and service startups, and media conglomerates.

Jeff combines engineering expertise with the ability to bridge business, creative, and technical perspectives. He uses his insight and experience to help organizations challenge assumptions and discover new solutions. He is a highly sought-after speaker and writer respected for his insights on topics such as Agile, DevOps, Service Design, and cloud computing.

Quotes & Insights from this Test Talk

  • The word Cybernetics comes from a Greek word that means steersman or steering. If you think about steering a car or piloting a boat, you can't just point yourself in a direction and go. You have to have the ability to respond to things like currents and winds that you don't expect and kind of continually bring yourself back on track.If you think about the nature of business in the 21st century, where we hear a lot of talk about the need to innovate and disruption and blue chip companies going out of business more and more quickly, it's no longer enough to say, we make band-aids and we make the best band-aids in the world and we've made them for 100 years and let's keep making band-aids better and better
  • QA is really the representative for feedback. The technical definition of feedback is that you measure the gap between what you expected and what you actually got. That's exactly what QA is. 
  • What I like to say is that quality moves both left and right and it becomes continuous. What I mean by that is on the one hand, we need to do more testing upfront and some of that is having testers pair with developers and test at the beginning of a sprint. 
  • The chaos monkey comes out of an observation by Adrian Cockcroft, who used to be the chief cloud architect at Netflix and is sort of the brains behind their whole cloud-based approach.
  • The starting point is that one of the properties of this post-industrial world is that the relationship between producers and consumers is really changing. The consumer is sort of resting control away and resting control of the marketing message away from producers.
  • What I'm trying to communicate in my book really at the heart is that at all levels, whether we're a microservice team or we're a QA engineer or we're a company, is we need to flip our minds 180 degrees away from thinking about, “What is the quality of the thing I'm making?” Which isn't to say we shouldn't care about it but the essence is not, “How good is thing I made?” The essence is, “How well can my customer use it to do what they want to do?” Personally, I think that QA can play a great role in helping organizations remember that. By, it doesn't matter how good it is. If I write a test or if I even just think about, “How does this help or not help my customer do their job?” Then, I can help improve quality.


Connect with Jeff

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