It has been written about so many times, and in so many different forms. This is my version, which is based on my experiences as a consultant/contractor and my work at Atlassian. I learned plenty of things at that company, and a year later I have also been able to digest some of it, and I hope to take myself the time to write about it from now on.
"End in itself"
Now lets talk about testing. And first I need to clarify the wording "end in itself", which to me sounded correct, but I wasn't completely sure. In Swedish the word is "självändamål", but there is no one word to describe this in english but "end in itself".
The goal is to create great high-quality software
To achieve this goal, you probably want to include some testing along the way. But you are definitely able to get there without /great/ testing. It might mean you need to work harder by other means, but to create great software a more important aspect is to have a team of great and knowledgable developers working towards the same vision and goals.
Why is this important?
For me, this was probably the biggest learning from Atlassian. While testing is an important and integral part of all product team activities, the more important aspects include shipping faster and delight customers. Testing is done to minimize risk, but the end goal is a delivered product.
Sometimes when I talk to testers and quality folks, the product and the value of the product as a goal seems too distant. The focus shifts to testing and test results as if it was an end in itself. This is the difference between a valuable quality professional and a tester which is just a cost centre.