Deepak is an Engineering Manager with Red Hat. He has been with Red Hat for more than ten years and prior to that was a QE Lead at PTC for five years. Deepak manages the Red Hat Ecosystem digital experience platforms. He has been a prolific speaker in conferences speaking on tech and psychological aspects of software development and testing.

Getting past Peter's Plateau - Career advice for Testers

Peter's Principle (Peter and Hull 1969) states that people rise in an organisation until they reach their level of incompetence. This stage of stagnation is called Peter's Plateau. This problem manifests a bit more severely for testers. Testing is context-dependent. More years as a tester does not necessarily mean that you will be a better tester in a completely new domain or platform (Experience Vs Expertise). Your heuristics, techniques and ever-evolving tooling skills can only aid your career to some extent. In this session, based on my long test engineering career and my work with testing teams as a manager, I am going to present some self-help techniques to determine: 

Is your testing career in a phase of stagnation (Plateau)? This can be sensed if you find yourself in one of these red flag situations: 

A. Hasty promotions due to

  1. Peter’s inversion
  2. Halo effect
  3. Reward and Retention

B. Authenticity Paradox

  1. Sticking to a rigid picture of self
  2. Considering your primary skill your identity

c. Skill Portability

  1. False sense of success replication in a context-dependent world

These risk of stagnation can further be mitigated by making sure that we are not doing : 

  1. Sustained high causality (cause and effect are known) work
  2. Working at a lower flight level while getting paid for a higher one (See Klaus Leopold's flight levels)
  3. Ambiguity aversion
  4. Continuous hoarding of institutional knowledge and scarce technical skills