~ by Randy Wagner

Hardship Can Pay Dividends

When I look back at the toughest struggles in my life, both personally and professionally, I’ve found that hardship usually pays unexpected dividends. There were definitely tough spots but if you embrace the challenge and the change, then you can make it work.

How to Embrace the Change that a Crisis Presents

For decades, there was a persistent belief in the West that the Chinese word for crisis was made up of two characters – danger and opportunity. That’s not quite correct but the truth is not far off as the meaning is closer to “dangerous” and “change point.” Too often we view bad news as just that such as when resources are shuffled on us or a client decides to go in a different direction than we expected. We had plans and now we’re back to square one. However, the best path forward is to focus on the second meaning of crisis and embrace the change.

Sometimes You Get Lucky but Most of the Time You Don’t

In working with a client team recently, we struggled with the QA resource. Nice guy. Worked hard but just wasn’t looking past the acceptance criteria so the product owner would have to redo the testing and find the defects. It’s not an easy system to learn so finding a replacement meant a significant investment in getting a new QA up to speed. The client found it easier to hobble along and address other challenges than focus on the QA. When we finally decided to pull the trigger, a similar team had a QA rolling off who had a solid general knowledge to start with. We snapped her up and, within a few weeks, she was finding defects not just in the story deliverables but already in Production. Sometimes you get lucky.

Dig Deep & Get Creative as Problems Can Reveal Innovative Opportunities for Change

But most of the time you don’t get so lucky. A problem rarely comes with a magic wand. That’s when you have to dig deep and create your own magic. Maybe it’s a skillset you don’t have currently have that you need to learn or reprioritizing things that pushes aside items you really wanted to accomplish. The problem is often a blessing in disguise that allows us to break free from old, less productive patterns and gives us a new perspective. Science is full of examples where problems suddenly revealed new and innovative opportunities. The discovery / invention of microwave ovens, penicillin, Velcro, and Teflon are all examples where the problem presented ultimately resulted in a wonderful opportunity only because the persons involved were willing to look further than the problem.

Similarly, software implementation can come with unexpected benefits. Don’t have the money for performance testing tools, maybe Selenium Grid fits the bill and is free. Changing resources can often come with new ideas for the system. No one changes the world by focusing only on the problems. Frankly, history can be written with all the things that were declared impossible.

Change is the Only Constant

As the saying goes, change is the only constant which means the only good option is to find the opportunities that new challenges present. As a wise consultant I worked with early on once said to me, “There are no problems, only opportunities for positive action.”

Randy Wagner is Director of Quality Assurance for CastleBay Companies. He has 20 years of consulting experience across private and public sectors, Guidewire InsuranceSuite, InsuranceNow, and Duck Creek, with specializations in quality assurance, project management, configuration management, and automation.