Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wake up, Shake up and then test...

You can't master testing unless you reinvent it

This is how one of the lessons of the book "Lessons learned in Software Testing" goes. And this statement is so very true. Just adding to the above statement based on my experience-

You can't master testing unless you reinvent it and you can't reinvent testing unless you reinvent your thinking

Software Testing is a job that requires extensive thinking. And unlike many people's beliefs - thinking is a skill, something that can be acquired and sharpened always. In order to test an application efficiently, we do need to sharpen our thinking skills and mental routine and apply the renewed thinking to test an application. There are many credible ways by which thinking can be enhanced or sharpened. Some ways include mastering Edward de bono's better thinking principles, studying epistemology, understanding cognitive psychology etc. These are the techniques and studies which can be learnt and applied to enhance one's thinking skills and in turn the efficiency of a tester.

Recently, while reading a book- "Instant Analysis" by David J. Lieberman- i came across a different thought line on how our physical routines can affect our thinking and even our thinking outputs. Life does get monotonous, mechanical and predictable as we move on. For example, as the day passes notice certain day-to-day behaviors-

- Once you get into office, look around your desk- you would probably find that picture on the same place as it has been for months or years, same place for a to-do list, same place where you keep your laptop and work.
- Look at the pattern in which you decide your password. Its probably following the same sequence for as long as you can remember.
- Are you in a habit of keeping your desk or your PC desktop unorganized and cluttered ?

There can be a numerous such examples (based on one’s life style) that you can relate to just by looking around your physical world. Probably the list of things that you have been doing the same way for a long time just because they have been part of your habit, something your subconscious mind drives you to do without you realizing it. As Dr. David puts it-
"You see something and you instantly go into a conditioned state associated with your environment."

The idea here is to be aware of such sub-conscious habits and behavior patterns and take a step forward to break the pattern by shaking up your daily routine. By doing so, it helps to jolt your usual thought patterns and open up new avenues of thinking. And it does work! I have tried this in my daily life and this kind of pattern interrupting exercises actually help to open new pathways in your brain eventually affecting the thinking outputs. Here is what needs to be done -

- Based on your life style, make a note of different aspects of your daily routine.
- Slight change any of the ordinary behaviors (e.g. organize your desk, move the stuff and rearrange, slightly change the order of things you do when you reach office etc.)
- Do things that you usually dont do and vice versa (by slightly adjusting the behavior)

Have more awareness of self and age-old pattern and eventually breaking them introduces you to a new thought process. A thought process that has the potential to bring in new ideas to your work, help you in coming up with new ways of testing.
As Software Testing is a job that requires immense thinking abilities, these slight adjustments to the physical routine has a potential to go a long way to bring in necessary change and freshness in a way you have been approaching testing.
I am quite keen to experiment more with this thought while testing and managing the testing in the time to come.


Anonymous said...

I would like to add a couple of points to your suggestion of using pattern interrupting exercises to sharpen one's thinking and in turn, make one's testing more efficient.

1) One should always have a primary problem that one desires to solve. If this is a testing problem and one uses the pattern interruption technique, one could get brilliant test ideas to work upon.

2) One should leave some free time in his/ her schedule. If one's schedule is packed, one's mind would focus primarily on completing the work. If on the other hand, if there is some free time available to reflect on the tests done thus far, new test ideas could come up when one changes his/ her habitual pattern.

Anonymous said...

It is "Lessons Learned..." and not "Lessons Learnt.." I think you do not edit your posts before publishing but want to earn money....shame on you...

Anuj Magazine said...

Hey Vikas,
Appreciate your honesty in giving the comments. I admit its a mistake and i will have it corrected. But your comments shows your ignorance as well. Nobody gives me money to write, i write because of my passion towards the profession.