There are individuals who have influenced my professional journey significantly. Sometimes, by working with me directly. Other times, by their writing or position in our software community. And other times, simply as a role model.

I've started a segment on my blog called – My Heroes. I’ll post intermittently, perhaps every 1-2 months. But it serves as a reminder to me to be thoughtful and appreciative of the folks who’ve influenced my growth and skills. And of course, they get none of the credit for my many foibles.

The fifth one up is actually a pair of individuals.

In 1994, close to 25 years ago, Dorothy Graham & Tom Gilb authored a book entitled – Software Inspection. It became the de facto standard guidance for how to conduct artifact and code reviews for software development. 

Now that doesn’t mean we “got good” at inspections. No, for decades following the books writing we still basically sucked at it. But it means that we had no good excuses for that. Dorothy and Tom had provided a wonderful recipe that many (most) failed to follow.

Dorothy Graham

From that beginning, Dorothy has moved on to become a leading voice surrounding test automation techniques. Continuing to contribute in that space over the past two plus decades. She continues to be an experienced voice in that space.

Her most recent book, Experiences of Test Automation: Case Studies of Software Test Automation, was published in 2012.

What has inspired me most about Dot is two things. First, well into her “senior years”, she still is incredibly active as a writer, teacher, presenter, and role model in the software development community.

I think it takes a lot of energy, persistence, and continuous learning to stay relevant in our field in the long term. And Dorothy has done that for nearly five decades. That sort of longevity, coupled with her passion, simply inspires me. 

The other thing I want to mention is her personality. Dot and I run into each other frequently at conferences. She always greets me with a smile and we engage in small talk as we catch-up on the “goings on” in both our lives.  

I guess my point here is that, beyond software development and testing, Dorothy is a genuine, kind, and thoughtful friend.

Tom Gilb

To be honest, I’ve never formally met Tom Gilb. I’ve been a consumer / reader of his work for decades. I’ve exchanged email with him a fair number of times. And I’ve been a fan of his work for what seems like…forever.

Tom, like Dorothy, has stood the test of time. He is a prolific writer, speaker, teacher, and general contributor to our community.

One of the key things that inspires me to today is the tireless work Tom has done to influence the direction of agile approaches. No, he doesn’t get the fanfare of Kent Beck, Jeff Sutherland, or David Anderson. But he has quietly and doggedly shown all of us the way.

A good reference to support his influence is Chapter 10 on EVO in Craig Larman’s 2003 book – Agile and Iterative Development: A Managers Guide.

In many ways, I wish Tom received more credit as an influencer of early thinking around agile software development. While I’m sure he doesn’t care so much about that, I believe he deserves it.

Over the course of the last 20 years, I’ve very occasionally received an email from Tom asking me about a point I made in a book or article I had written. We would exchange emails around the point, usually with him disagreeing with my views.

Many would have become annoyed with that. I on the other hand found joy in each and every interaction. It was as if I was jousting with a master knight. I only ever came out of each discussion better and wiser than when I’d entered. 

You see, Tom truly cares about the profession and works tirelessly to improve it in his own way!

Wrapping Up

One of the reasons I coupled Dorothy and Tom together was the book they co-wrote. But the primary reason is that: 

  • They have stood the test of time and continue on with relevancy, wisdom, passion, and grace;

  • They are role models, people who – walk their talk;

  • They are voices that aren’t afraid to challenge us to do better;

  • They are well-intentioned and good people, who freely mentor and guide so many of us.

One of the defining aspects of my heroes is that they’ll probably be embarrassed to be categorized in that way. Nonetheless, they are my heroes.

They’ve helped me to become the person, trainer, speaker, and coach that I am today. Whether they’re aware of it or not.

Dot & Tom, I’m incredibly blessed to know you and want you to know that you are my Heroes.

Stay agile my friends,