By James Bach
I’m delighted to read Michelle Smith’s play-by-play description of how she is coaching new testers. Take a look.
Let me catalog the coolnesses:
1. “The team I work with was previously exposed to Rapid Software Testing. This exposure caused me to wonder what would happen if these new folks were exposed to some of these ideas early on?”
Notice that she uses the word “wonder”? That’s the attitude I hope to foster in people who take my class. It’s an attitude of curiosity and personal responsibility. She doesn’t speak of applying practices as if the people on the team were milling machines waiting to be programmed. She implies that her testers are learners under their own control. Her attitude is one of establishing a productive but not coercive relationship.
I don’t know if she got this from my class– probably she had it beforehand– but it’s an attitude I share with her.
2. “I went in their shared office and opened up a five minute conversation with them by asking “What is a bug?” and following that with “who are the people that matter?”.”
Michelle mentions “five minute conversations” a few times. And notice how most of her interactions were in the form of puzzles and questions. It speaks of a light touch with coaching. Light touch is good. Especially with novice testers, experience speaks louder than lecture. Introduce an idea then try it, or try something first, then talk about the idea. Either way, I like how she was getting them working.
3. She had them practice explaining themselves, both in writing and by voice.
4. She was concerned more with the cognitive parts of testing than with the artifacts. That’s good because excellent testing artifacts, such as bug reports and test cases, come from the thinking of the testers. Think well and the rest will follow.
5. She has them work on several aspects of testing. Notice how she deals with oracles, tools, mission, the social process and gaining product knowledge.
I bet what Michelle is doing will lead to better, more passionate testers, and more dynamic, flexible testing. Compare this to what we see so often in our industry: testers simply told to sit down and create test cases. Look, even if you think pre-defined test cases make for great testing, I think to be successful with that you have to base it on skilled and knowledgeable testers. Michelle is creating that foundation with her team.
Overall, what I’m most happy with is that Michelle has made Rapid Testing her own thing. This is vital. This is fundamental to the spirit of my teaching. I want to grow colleagues who confidently think for themselves. Hats off to you, Michelle, for doing that and blogging about it.
Finally, Michelle writes, “I have no idea if what I am doing is going to produce any benefits to them, to the team, or to the stakeholders. Time will tell.”
No best practices nonsense, here. No certification mentality. Just healthy skepticism. Thank you, Michelle!
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By James Bach