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Trias Politica by Ard Kramer

  • 07/10/2010
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

Trias Politica is what a colleague yelled on our work floor. I don’t know the occasion but my reaction was Yes that has something to do with testing! Huh, does it? Yep: trias politica is about the separation of powers, the division between executive, legislature and judiciary. When you look at those powers I see an analogy with the software development world we working in, executives and designers as the legislature, developers as the executives and testers as the judiciary.

So far so good for this analogy and I am certain that in certain situations, e.g. outsourcing, this division should be used: “faith is good, control is better”. Quite a few times I hear project managers who have the opinion that a developer or a designer is very well capable of checking his own work and that testers will not add any value, obvious they do not understand the separation of powers. People are biased when they have to check their own work and will do a lot of assumptions and therefore things go wrong.

There is another side of the trias politica in software development: in agile teams the separation of powers is also there although the separation is not so clear. Everbody is working close together where the roles can differ and change but the results are clear and well defined.

The agile way of working, the ‘new’ way of working with powers not as good separated as in the trias politica but were the results are good and people are working harmoniously together. Isn’t this a good example how we can revive our old democracies, a networking democracy, the agile way? Where you see again that testers are close by when the future is redefined!

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