Brightest and best - really

I seem to recall (meaning that I could be making this up) some sort of Microsoft recruiting phrase from years ago stating that Microsoft hired the “brightest and best”. Regardless of where it came from, the phrase has stuck in my head, and I usually repeat the phrase with an extrememly high amount of sarcasm when I see someone do something stupid I wouldn’t expect of someone bearing the “brightest and best” title. To be fair, I can’t recall ever spouting this phrase in regards to someone who I’ve worked with for any amount of time – it’s usually saved for silly email comments, isolated coding or design choices, or random acts of wtf.

Why the heck am I bringing this up? The hands down coolest part of my job is that I got to design a course for senior testers at Microsoft, and better yet, I get to teach it. The course is designed for experienced testers (usually a minimum of 5 years experience) who want to broaden their impact without going into management. I know you’re thinking “bo-ring”, but if you are, you’re missing the point.

Let me put it another way. I teach a course where I get to hang out for an extended amount of time with some of the best testers at Microsoft. These same people happen to be some of the smartest people at Microsoft. They think they come to class primarily to learn from me, but most of what I do is facilitate conversations on a dozen or so “advanced” testing topics where I get to learn as much as they do. Everyone participates in the conversation and has opinions and experiences to share. Sometimes I feel like I’m attending an advanced testing workshop and forget that I’m supposed to be the one that knows everything (which I obviously don’t). The course constantly improves too – it seems that every time I teach it that there are two or three topics where someone in the class has additional information or references that I wasn’t aware of (I note the info and update the course materials).

I taught the course last week and was impressed far beyond my expectations with the attendees. These people all deserve a completely non-sarcastic “brightest and best” label.