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Our inquisitive selves

  • 13/10/2010
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

This was triggered by an excellent post by Ajay.
He spoke of the inquisitive nature of children, one thing most of us inhibit as part of adult culture and peer pressure.

I have actually attended an intensive training course where “ breaking a sweat asking for help” was one of the learning objectives. It was also a great team building exercise and focussed on individual self improvement as well. As such, the McCarthy BootCamp was the most useful training course I’ve seen so far.

My daughter (age 3) has no qualms asking questions, especially the “5 Why’s”. She will never worry about wasting my time. As adults, it’s easy to struggle with a question, and then waste a lot of time not asking it. When asked, there are no stupid questions.

Another thing that we can learn from children, is the way that they learn things – learning by doing, learning by playing and interacting. Reading documents first is not their style, nor is it to write down a detailed plan of what they will do – instead they will explore, and ask questions about what they do not understand.

How does this relate to testing? Well, Testing happens to be a discipline with a lot of prerequisites. For most of us, it’s too complicated to configure some of the tools we use, and in many cases we will not have access rights to modify our test environments anyway. To exercise our craft, we actively have to gather information, such as finding the latest requirements changes that were not documented. If a test produces an unexpected outcome, then it’s good practice to ask a question, rather than writing a defect report right away. By asking a question, we acknowledge the possibility that we might have been fooled by something, or that our information is not up-to-date.

In recent years, many organisations were pushing the less communicative people into the testing field, under the assumption that in a waterfall-style development model, testers didn’t have to communicate all that much. How this has changed. In an agile environment, a tester can and should be building bridges between various stakeholders, end users, and the development team. His or her inquisitive nature has to be uninhibited by any fear to ask questions.

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