Social Abilities Infuse Tech Know-How with Power | TechWell

Social Abilities Infuse Tech Know-How with Power

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Every day we learn about new and innovative technologies. With each announcement, members of the IT community eagerly seek to apply the new capabilities to their products and services. Software testers are no exception.

Technology plays a significant role in planning and executing the tasks performed by software test teams. Automation and service virtualization tools streamline activities, and with greater efficiency, turnaround times shrink and productivity increases. However, technology does not operate in isolation, and success only occurs when technical abilities are balanced with social inputs.

Success means achieving desired goals. Organizations establish cultures aimed at achieving these goals, which are socially constructed. Individuals use skills and experience to strategize and perform tasks in alignment with the specified objectives. Without social interactions, alignment between goals and efforts diminishes, and lack of alignment creates failure rather than success.

Regardless of how amazing it is, a tool or process only adds value if the output contributes to the overarching goals. The effective use of communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills enables software testers to tailor testing tasks according to the desired outcomes. Developing individual social skills also allows software testers to help stakeholders understand how the technical aspects of testing align to project goals.

Greater understanding builds trust and promotes knowledge-sharing. It is important that all parties collaborate in a manner that builds awareness and clarity. Focusing on clearly labeled, shared objectives solidifies a common definition of success, and a common mission enables stakeholders to proactively refine tasks when social (goals and people) and technical (processes and technologies) systems shift.

Unfortunately, software testers focus their personal development activities almost exclusively on boosting technical acumen. Social systems change just as frequently as technical systems: New team members join, key resources leave, goals change, and new ways of thinking are required to interact with updated technology. Social skills must evolve based on team composition, desired goals, and collective abilities.

Power up technical skills by developing communication, adaptability, collaboration, and problem-solving abilities. Infusing tech know-how with social skills increases team performance levels and creates project success. 

Marcia Buzzella is presenting the session Balancing Tech Know-How with Social Skills at STAREAST 2018, April 29–May 4 in Orlando, Florida.

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