Commitments - "This is what I plan to do the next year and how you will know whether I am doing it" - are a vital part of the career development process here at Microsoft. Annual reviews and promotions are largely based on one's execution against one's commitments as well. Theoretically some or all of a person's commitments are aligned with their manager's commitments, which are in turn aligned with their manager's commitments, and so on all the way up the line to Steve Ballmer. I have never done that. My commitments reflect what I am interested in doing. That my commitments generally more-or-less align with my group's goals is in some respects an accident.

Several of us senior testers post our commitments on an internal website so that other testers can see all of the things we do. It occurred to me that people outside of Microsoft might find this interesting too. Forthwith: my commitments for the next year.

1.  Establish Test Automation On Macintosh

Execution Plan:

  • Define the Semantic Model for the Macintosh Client
  • Plan and implement at least one automated test for each Semantic Action in the Semantic Model

Accountabilities: 

  • The Semantic Model is defined by 28 Nov 2008
  • The test cases are defined by 28 Nov 2008
  • The test cases are implemented by the Mid-Year Career Discussion
  • Have worked with other <my group> testers to achieve each of these accountabilities

I have been prototyping a process and framework for writing automated tests on Macintosh. This commitment is about taking what I have learned and building the for-real foundation for my team's test automation efforts on Macintosh.

2.  Identify And Resolve The Most Important Problems 

Execution Plan: 

  • Interview all <my group> Leads from all disciplines and all <my group> testers to understand their perception of our current and upcoming issues and problems
  • Manage a prioritized backlog of these issues and problems and corresponding projects and tasks
  • Work with other <my group> team members in iterations of one month or less to investigate, propose solutions for, and solve these issues and problems

Accountabilities: 

  • Have interviewed every <my group> Test Lead by 28 Nov 2008
  • Have interviewed every <my group> Lead by the Mid-Year Career Discussion
  • Have interviewed every <my group> tester by the end of this review period
  • Am actively managing a prioritized backlog of these issues and problems and corresponding projects and tasks
  • Have worked with other <my group> team members to complete at least five iterations by the end of this review period
  • Have reviewed the backlog prioritization and my execution plan for the current iteration with my lead every month
  • Am tracking status of this work and progress against my execution plan with my lead on a regular basis

This will be my primary focus: working with people in my group to solve problems that matter to us.

3.  Grow The Team  

Execution Plan: 

  • Own the <my group> Test code review process
  • Present at the <my group> Cross-Learning Brown Bag Series at least once each quarter
  • Mentor at least one <my group> tester

Accountabilities: 

  • Have worked with the <my group> Test Leads to achieve either agreement on or a decision not to bother with a code review process by the Mid-Year Career Discussion
  • Have presented the code review process to <my group> Test by the Mid-Year Career Discussion
  • Am actively investigating any ignoring or misapplication of the code review process and am resolving the underlying issues
  • Have presented at the <my group> Cross-Learning Brown Bag Series at least once each quarter
  • Am mentoring at least one <my group> tester
  • Mentees are happy with our mentoring relationship

Mentoring/coaching/teaching is what I most enjoy doing. Each of my commitments is really about mentoring and helping people learn.

4.  Help Customers Be More Successful With Their Testing

Execution Plan: 

  • Provide an explanation of testing and a transparency into testing at Microsoft
  • Highlight tools, processes, techniques, and technologies customers can use to improve their testing
  • Support the MSDN Tester Center
  • Mentor internal testers from other teams

Accountabilities: 

  • Posted to my blog on these topics most weeks
  • Reviewed content for the MSDN Tester Center as requested
  • Mentees are happy with our mentoring relationship

This is effectively my previous commitment writ large. (Or my previous commitment is this one writ small; take your pick.) This commitment covers blogging, Tester Center, and mentoring people outside my group, as well as the consulting I do with teams across the company. Another way to put this commitment is "Talk testing with whomever will listen to me"!

This is what I'll do (said young Gerald McGrew) to support my group (and you) in all that we do. At least, this is what I plan to do today. My experience is that commitments tend to change over the course of the year. I am curious to see what I really end up doing this next year!


*** Want a fun job on a great team? I need a tester! Interested? Let's talk: Michael dot J dot Hunter at microsoft dot com. Great testing and coding skills required.