When I first thought how the Deadpool movie could be tied to testing, I was taking the whole idea, even the movie, too literally. (There is a joke in there somewhere, I just know it!) A scene in the movie, prompted this initial take on the direction of the article, but really wasn’t the “AH-ha!” I was hoping it would be about Exploratory Testing. (Though if you’ve seen the movie, which I do recommend, I still think my initial thoughts on Exploratory Testing might be entertaining.)
I mentioned this to my manager and he brought up a point that is now the basis of this article. (Thanks Heath!) Superheroes have powers of some kind, and Deadpool’s power, possibly his greatest power, is to break reality, break the fourth wall and talk to the audience directly. He can talk to his creators directly. He talks, a lot. The character is constantly communicating his flippant, sarcastic points of view to everybody regardless of where you exist.
I’m not advocating being flippant and sarcastic at work, though if you have a good manager and team that you work with, they might appreciate it more than others. I'm also not advocating shooting your dev team when you find defects, even if that seems really tempting at the time. Mostly, the example I’m looking at here comes from a couple of perspectives. Deadpool is aware of his audience, aware that he is a character, and aware that he can affect things on multiple levels. This state is very similar to what a tester should try to achieve in their testing career.
A tester should be aware of their audience, even when the rest of development focuses on the software or whatever is being created. The tester should know what the creation is, and be aware of how the audience will receive it. Testers should act as different characters within the development world. Whether this is the diplomat, the communicator, the user, the hero, the sidekick, the plot device; testers should be aware of what and even who they are in the process at that point in time and act according to that nature, then know when to break it, to play with it and even move on to a different character or persona. A tester should affect things on multiple levels. From the development stage, to the ship day, to the interaction with users using the product you helped create, or even a competitor’s product, you can affect how your environment takes things in, processes it and then project that back out to the world at-large.
Inside of the product, a tester should have a wicked set of skills to test their environment. While Deadpool knows he’s a character, he does have martial art skills, weapons skills, and tactical skills to help him deal with that environment. Deadpool is also versed in the latest and greatest of pop-culture, but still understands how history can play a part in current events. Testers should be creating their own tool box of things to build skills dealing with the environment they currently working in, and skills that keep a tester moving forward and current in on career path, whatever that might be.
I want to talk about the types of communication in Deadpool. The movie was communicating on so many different levels. Inside the environment of the movie, communication wasn't really important until Wade changed to Deadpool and those caused dynamic changes in the movie itself. From the constant dropping of Easter eggs to the fans and even to Ryan Reynolds fans, but also character dynamics where communication became important. This, to me, seems like a great example of a system under development, which once released, takes on a whole different life of it's own. Even the creator isn't in control any more. Deadpool is his own being. What's cool about Deadpool is that he can communicate back to his creator and influence the creator. Software does that on different levels with different people. Customers using the software communicate defects, change requests, usage issues, and outages, just to name a few. Developers can get feedback from tests and the code itself. Testers can gather all of these things and look at the bigger picture, investigate and then disseminate information as it becomes relevant.