Article & Observations About Diverse Teams Working Better Together
I was reading Lori Gottlieb’s book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, and she writes about Viktor Frankl. He was a famous Austrian psychiatrist who “went on to study medicine and lecture on the intersection of psychology and philosophy, or what he called logotherapy from the Greek word logos, or ‘meaning.’”  Frankl believed finding meaning in life is what drives people even when terrible circumstances arise.
We’ve been fortunate to work with some great clients since opening our doors. “Iterators LLC has recognized DE&I since its inception. We were founded on the principle that people with diverse backgrounds enhance and strengthen software testing outcomes. Being a women-owned small business (WOSB) presents both advantages and challenges in the technology field. Just as with people in neurodiverse groups, "traditional" companies often perceive women to be either less qualified in this field or have received special treatment if successful.” 
In 2018, Iterators LLC participated as an exhibitor at the Massachusetts Conference for Women. Our booth was right next to Akamai Technologies and around the corner from Dell and Bose, and we were the only WOSB represented at the conference in technology. There was a representative walking around from Boston College, and as he passed, he casually said, “We need software testing.” Contact information was exchanged and several months later we did get a call about their specific project.
Prior to attending the conference, we had heard many positive things about the conference as a whole. For example, we heard about the quality of the speakers, like Amal Clooney, Esq, who specializes in international law and human rights, and Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. There were thousands in attendance; many were selling their wares, newly graduated attendees were getting advice on updating their résumés, and others were getting hair and make-up makeovers before taking advantage of the professional head shots being offered. I came away thinking the event was not exactly what I expected and realized I had some initial blind spots.
Changing your mind doesn’t make you a flip-flopper or a hypocrite. It means you were open to learning. Think Again (Grant, Chapter 5) 
Rethinking allowed for greater introspection and the realization that Boston College chose to attend this event, an event for women, because they were looking for talent. Companies would benefit from acknowledging—and acting on—this wealth of diversity by employing more WOSBs and women. When hired by Boston College to test their EagleApps initiative, “a fully modular solution for managing the core business of colleges and universities,” we were thrilled that Iterators' diversity of testers (women, neurodivergent, and BIPOC [black, indigenous, and people of color]) would augment the diversity of thought needed for a large enterprise project like this.
Boston College’s website explains the EagleApps project is “sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Information Technology Services. This multi-year, multi-project effort will result in a next generation suite of flexible applications that will enhance the experience of current and future students, faculty, and administrators.” Before we started actual work on EagleApps, an owner of the project remarked that they originally did not believe outside software testers were necessary, concluding they thought their internal business associates could handle all the testing requirements internally.
Susan Dominus’ article, “Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?” in The New York Times Magazine, quotes Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take: “The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.” 
Our first credo is to be helpful.
The simple statement that the original owners of the project “did not initially believe outside software testers were necessary” was enough motivation for us to be in our element. We completed over 350 new test cases once it was determined that there was insufficient written documentation necessary for validation and compliance. These test plans were created in TestRails QA and had to be changed repeatedly during our participation with EagleApps as new features were added or changed. The way the plans were structured allows for sections to be updated easily to ensure the test plans will not become obsolete. We completed functional, exploratory, and regression testing on the largest module of EagleApps, Curriculum Management Course Offerings (CMCO). We also worked on modules for Academic Calendar, Scheduling, Final Exams, Student Records, and Program and Transcripts to name a few. We used automation to test the project as well. The automation used Selenium and Python to perform end-to-end user testing. However, automation requires a stable enough environment so that the tests don’t have to be constantly updated.
The fact that our testers were often overlooked when seeking employment due to their neurodivergence, which made their motivation to be helpful, and do good work even more significant. Our testers gained a cool self-confidence, that comes from working on such a large, complex, first-of-its-kind project, with memories of our "significant contributions" to EagleApps.
We always work to have positive communications, and this project is no different. Many clients advise they need something by x date but with development cycles being unpredictable, the dates often change. This requires Iterators to rethink how to allocate our resources, and use our time wisely. It also requires flexibility in adjusting to development timelines. Hydrow (formerly True Rowing), another client, summed it up this way: “Their flexibility in assisting us whenever we required help, especially with our release scheduling, is impressive.”  We always update teams we work with by both written correspondence and verbal communication. And we always let the team know we are available and will await updates from them. We keep track of all communication as teams are large and not everyone on a team will be aware of the communication offered.
Viktor Frankl wrote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  Adam Grant wrote in Think Again: “The problem is that we live in a rapidly changing world, where we need to spend as much time rethinking as we do thinking.” 
Rethinking is now our second credo.
 Gottlieb, Lori. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2019.
 Willcox, Jill. “The Good That Comes With More Women in Tech.” Iterators LLC. 24 February 2021. https://iteratorstesting.com/blog/benefits-in-tech. Accessed 4 March 2021.
 Grant, Adam. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. Viking, 2021.
 Diaz, Patricia. Newswire.com. “DXtera Institute & Boston College Collaborate to Launch the EagleApps Community.” DXtera website. 11 March 2020. DXtera Institute & Boston College Collaborate to Launch the EagleApps Community | DXtera Institute. Accessed 4 March 2021.
 Boston College https://www.bc.edu/content/bc web/offices/its/about/currentprojects/eagleapps.html. Accessed 4 March 2021.
 Dominus, Susan. “Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?” The New York Times Magazine. 27 March 2013. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/magazine/is-giving-the-secret-to-getting-ahead.html. Accessed 4 March 2021.
 Clutch website. https://clutch.co/profile/iterators?utm_source=widget&utm_medium=widget_1&utm_campaign=widget&utm_content=logo. Accessed 4 March 2021.
 Grant, Adam. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. Viking, 2021.
Jill Willcox began her career as a registered nurse, working as a liaison between health insurance companies and patients with catastrophic-changing injuries. After moving to the greater New England area, Jill started a women-owned small business (WOSB) named Iterators LLC. Iterators LLC has been recognized for its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts since its inception adding to better outcomes for their clients.
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