Software at Scale 53 - Testing Culture with Mike Bland

A conversation with Utsav Shah about automated testing adoption, culture change, and leadership.

Tags: Apple, Google, QCI, Testing Grouplet, leadership, personal, philosophy

I’m honored to have been invited by Utsav Shah to appear as a guest on his Software at Scale podcast:

The conversation goes really deep into the problems of adoption and culture change, emphasizing the need for perspective and leadership rather than the technical details. We start by briefly explaining The Rainbow of Death model and the Testing Grouplet story. We go on to cover ground from Automated Testing—Why Bother? and The Snowflake Fallacy and Instigator Theory (which I posted the day we recorded).

We ultimately ruminate on factors of the human condition that inhibit adoption and change, despite the existence of decades-old industry wisdom and practices.1 As a result, the need for committed leadership persists.2

And yes, I do mention my work at Apple with the Quality Culture Initiative, but I’m careful not to disclose any sensitive details.

To be honest, I was afraid immediately after recording that I might’ve come off a bit spacey; but the episode turned out really, really well. I think this speaks to Utsav’s skill as a host. We covered so much ground thanks to his insightful questions and responses, yet the whole episode remained grounded and coherent.

Please check out the episode, and let me know what you think. And as it turns out, Utsav has previously interviewed my past colleagues Bharat3 and Guido4 (only the first episode touches slightly on the Testing Grouplet):


  1. My recent reading of the Bhagavad Gita and The Daily Stoic informs this point of view. 

  2. Had we more time, I’d’ve discussed Leadership is Language at length—and maybe The Beatles: Get Back and Shoresy

  3. Bharat, along with Nick Lesiecki, founded the Testing Grouplet at Google. Both were mentors to me, and I assumed leadership of the Grouplet from them along with Mamie Rheingold, Neal Norwitz, and Michelle Levesque. 

  4. Guido and I were on the Build Tools team at Google for a time, and he was a big supporter of the Grouplet. After Neal Norwitz introduced me to the codebase, I created the first patch implementing the Python with statement, which Guido then cleaned up and submitted. Guido also connected me with George Neville-Neil, who helped me publish Finding More Than One Worm in the Apple in Communications of the ACM