I link only to people I respect and endorse. By endorsement, I mean if you have any trouble with people on this list, let me know and I'll help fix the problem.
This list is risky for me to disclose. There are many people I like and admire, but can't yet fully endorse. Maybe because I don't have enough experience with them, or maybe because I feel they need more seasoning in the craft, or maybe because I feel they have some critical flaw in their professional fiber (as I have the wit to comprehend it).
There are people who maybe should be on this list, but I have simply forgotten to include them. One risk is that a friend of mine will feel slighted to be excluded from the list. Sometimes my write-ups actually offend the person I am trying to honor.
A risk that concerns me more is that I will have to remove someone from this list because I lose full confidence in him.
Still, I feel that lists like this are valuable enough to brave the slings and arrows. This is the mild form of professional certification that derives value from one's personal standing and recognizes the standing of others.
I don't care, not one little bit, if the people I endorse here endorse me back. Or let me put it this way, I DO care, very much-- but that feeling is just a childish anachronism that no one should concern themselves with. I have to admit that a few people on this list annoy me. If I'm pushed, I would have to admit we don't like each other much... But the quality and insight in the work of some annoying people still demands my respect, and so they go on the list.
North AmericansI am biased toward the English-speaking world of testers, of course. If there are great testers who speak only Japanese, I can know nothing about them. And within the English speaking world I know America and Canada the best.
No, not that Michael Bolton, nor the one on "Office Space". The Michael I'm talking about (http://www.developsense.com) is a testing enthusiast and consultant based in Toronto. Michael has written some wonderfully insightful articles, posted on his site.
Michael and I are the co-creators of Rapid Testing methodology. I have no closer colleague.
Michael is famous for rethinking the traditional phrases and terminology of testing. He convinced me to distinguish between testing and checking, for instance. I sometimes describe Michael as the Marshall McLuhan of testing. Which is an easy call considering how often he quotes the guy.
I don't recommend people lightly. There are no reciprocal links here. So it is with special pleasure that I can recommend my brother, Jon. In 1995, I helped him start his testing career, and since then he has become simply the finest test manager I know. I mean I am astonished at his ability to turn a lackluster rabble into a squad of smiling tester-commandos. Jon worked a few years at Microsoft as a tester and test manager, worked for me for a couple of years, then became a consultant for Quardev, a test lab in Seattle.
Jon is now a Quality Evangelist at eBay.
I consider Jon one of the three godfathers of Rapid Testing methodology.
Paul is a gifted test manager formerly of Alcatel, and is famous for his facilitation skills at context-driven peer conferences. He's the facilitator-in-chief at CAST conferences, and a pillar of the WOPR conference. He's also teaching my RST classes through Doran Jones.
Testing the Limits with Paul Holland, a software testing blog article about Paul Holland (by Jamie Saine) 11/12/12.
I've known Scott a long time. He's my favorite performance testing expert. He also is one of the founders of the well-regarded WOPR series of peer conferences. He's passionate and direct. My kind of guy.
Ross (firstname.lastname@example.org) is well known as one of the hardest working testing teachers and consultants out there. He's taught thousands of testers and consulted with major corporations around the world. He's been famous for years for his encyclopedic ten volume corpus of class notes (it's three feet of paper when stacked up). For a long time, that was all I knew about him. However, since 1999, he's earned particular respect in the context-driven testing community. He's become an important leader in our movement. This is because he has an unusual gift for analyzing, synthesizing, and discussing test practices. If I had to pick one particular quality that explains his skill and success as a methodologist, I'd say it's his intellectual humility. Ross seems able to listen to everyone and be open to all possibilities. He doesn't have a website, but if you email him you'll find he has an extensive catalog of classes to offer.
Ross is the main founder of the WOPR conference.
I met Payson Hall at the first Consultants Camp I attended, in 1995. I saw him more as a drill sergeant than a thinker. He's a plain speaking man. No meeting Payson runs will wander off its agenda or take a minute longer than necessary to achieve its mission. Then one day he showed me his project management class materials, and I was surprised at the subtlety in his work. He understands, as few do, that training is not merely instruction, it is skill-building. His materials are well-crafted, with many experiential exercises and mini-games that help his students get to the why of things. His work is not just bold and practical, it's smart. I'd say it's worth going to his class just to experience his statistical simulation of schedule slippage. And if I was on a hard project that wasn't getting done, I'd call philosopher-sergeant Payson to help me sort it out.
Matt is another independent consultant. But he's kind of a special case. He writes a LOT. He organizes things. He coaches a lot of talented testers. He's a community builder.
With an ambition reminiscent of Cem Kaner, Matt has big plans and an emerging grand vision of the craft. I don't know if he would agree, but that's how it looks to me.
Karen is an independent testing consultant based in the Chicago Area. She works on long or short projects.
I got to know Jonathan Kohl through his insightful blogging on various aspects of the testing art. Then I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with him, talking about testing philosophy and automation. He has done some great work in test automation, and recently went independent. Apart from test automation, Jonathan is an agilist who believes in testing as a skilled activity. My favorite thing about Jonathan, though, is that he is a man of integrity. He does not say pretty things just to please a manager. Work with him and you will get the straight story, always. He also teaches his own form of exploratory testing.
Harry (email@example.com) specializes in model-based testing. Since essentially all testing is based on models, you have to read that as formal model-based testing--the process of generating tests automatically from models that are formally specified. Harry can help you find out about this interesting class of tools. Also, unlike some people who are into cool tools, Harry's a practical man.
Johanna has a gift for getting software projects into shape by defining objectives, common sense metrics, and helping people figure out what they really want. I think the essence of her gift lies in the fact that she can connect with a wide variety of people, including prima donna developers, or philosophers like me, then find ways to help everyone function as one team. If I was on a software project, I would want Johanna to manage it.
I met Dave Smith when I joined SmartPatents in 1998. I can tell you that Dave is an expert programmer and project manager. With his help, I got up to speed in Perl much faster than I otherwise would have. Dave and I have gone through a lot of training under Jerry Weinberg, so I've seen him operate under a variety of conditions. He's based in Silicon Valley. He works at Google now.
Rob wrote the strange testing classic I Am A Bug, (illustrated by his young daughter). He's an animated speaker and a hard-driving testing consultant. A man who gets things done. Hire him especially if you have a major test project and you need someone to run it, especially if it involves working with an outsourcing company. He's been a client of my brother Jonathan's testing company and by all reports he spurred them to great feats. He also teaches a class called "Just in Time Testing" which seems to be a worthy competitor to my own classes.
Jerry Weinberg is one of the great figures in software engineering history. He's written lots of books, and all that, but where his work has touched and transformed mine is by way of his Problem Solving Leadership, Change Shop, and Systems Effectiveness Management seminars. These are the most useful classes I've taken in my adult life. After reading, writing, and ciphering, I learned most about the basic skills of work from Jerry.
The Swedish Pantheon
In my world, "Swedish tester" is becoming a stock phrase, like "French chef" or "Swiss banker" or "Antarean starship captain" (You want your hyperdrive fixed right? Go see an Antarean). I'm not entirely sure why this is, but part of it is their cosmopolitan, egalitarian culture. Skilled testers find more fertile ground, in Sweden. Also, there's good office furniture.
I intend to add Rikard Edgren, Henrik Emilsson, Martin Jansson, Tobbe Ryber, Henrik Andersson, and Michael Albrecht to this list, soon.
The prominent Context-Driven Testing people in Netherlands and Belgium are: Huib Schoots, Joris Meerts, Zeger Van Hese, Ray Oei, Jean-Paul Varwijk, and Ruud Cox. See the DEWT website for more.
Eastern European Allstars
I intend to add Oliver Vilson (Estonia), Kristjan Uba (Estonia), and Alex Rotaru (Romania), soon.
The Thunder Down Under
New Zealand and Australia are beginning to make waves in the Context-Driven testing world, too.
Anne-Marie is an independent testing consultant based in Australia (though her accent is Irish). As a testing coach and trainer, she helps testers discover their testing mojo and become the testers they aspire to be. She also has a knack of transforming test teams into power houses of tester skill. You can contact her at her blog http://mavericktester.com or on twitter @charrett.
Anne-Marie (don't call her "Anne") is working with me to develop an online tester coaching methodology. I'm having a great time collaborating with her. She's vocal and full of ideas, but also respectful-- something I respect a lot, since I personally have such a hard time respecting anything or anyone.
I intend to add Oliver Erlewein, Brian Osman, Andrew Robins, Katirna Clokie, Aaron Hodder, Jared Quinert and Richard Robinson to this list, soon.
My Indian Heroes
India has a lot of testers, almost all of whom are unknown to the Context-Driven School of testing. In recent years, leaders have been emerging. And this is a very exciting development.
I intend to add Pradeep Soundararajan, Ajay Balamurugadas, Meeta Prakash (and several others whose names I must carefully look up and spell) to this list, soon.
Sometimes I think the worst and the best of testing can be found in Britain. It's like the Mordor of testing, but has some hobbits, too. The ironic thing is that the intellectual underpinnings of testing originated mostly in the UK with Herschel, Hume, Locke, Babbage, Mill, Hooke, Boyle, Wittgenstein, Russell, and Turing. So how can they, with that heritage, have created the ISEB certification and be promoting intellectually empty testing standards? Sigh.
I intend to add James Lyndsay, Antony Marcano, Tony Bruce, Alan Richardson, Steven Green, and Julian Harty.
That One German Guy
Germany has no excuse. There are TONS of smart people there. How is it only one intellectual software tester has emerged from the ISTQB-addled masses to demand my respect with his work? My theory is that Germany has a more command-and-control culture, which perhaps disparages independent thought of the kind required to achieve excellence in testing. This pains me, because I am descended from Germans and I would love to visit and teach there.
Anyway, the one German guy who shines in my community is Markus Gaertner. I'll do a write-up on him, shortly.