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The elements of good testing

We want to test rapidly, deal with incomplete information yet stay clear, absorb vast amounts of information, process and analyse well, be a seeker and question deeply to test very well.

Good critical thinking skills are the order of the day. So how do we accomplish this?

Hmmm, it seems like the elements to good testing may be:

How we do (the DOING), How well we do (problem solving METHOD), the AIDS that we use to assist in our DOING. In addition to these physical stuff, it is also non-technical virtual stuff of how well we are engaged in the act to be in a flow, creative thinking in addition to being deductive/ logical, the role of language styles and diagrams/sketches in unleashing the right brain creativity.

Let us look at “the DOING” – “how we perform the various activities”.

Processes at a higher level list (org/division) list who, when, what need to be done to ensure clarity and consistency of work by enabling. Templates provide a simple boiler plate for seeking, recording information aided by checklists for activities to enable a consistent way of doing. The key benefit of processes is largely being consistent, whilst the effectiveness depends on the individual’s practice of doing – of choosing the right techniques , using it correctly, make intelligent choices by applying good principles, relying on ones/others experience(s), available as possible guidelines/heuristics to choosing the most appropriate path to doing. It is a winning combination of PROCESS & PRACTICE that ensures that outcomes of activities are consistent, effective and efficient. It is “the DOING” element.

Not only is it necessary that we have clarity of “what-do-do”, it is also necessary to doing it well. Be it any activity in the lifecycle like read/explore to understand or come up with scenarios/questions, it is the “how-we-do” i.e. “problem solving METHOD” that matters for effective testing.

The methods of problem solving are : technique are are person independent, heuristics/guidelines based on experience or decision making principles to make choices. A good practice that is largely individual based is the backbone to effective implementation of the various activities that we talked about.

To ensure good implementation of activities or the method to solve problems in the in activity(ies) “the AIDS” like templates, checklists, guidelines are often used.

Note that process aids like Templates, Checklists aid in compliance, ensuring that we do not miss any fine grained information or activity sometimes quelling the creative side of problem solving. In situations when it is required to be very diligent, checklists are very effective. There is a very interesting article in the book “Differential diagnosis” on how checklists were very instrumental in cutting down infections in hospital ICUs enabling faster recovery and saving a whole lot of money. “the AIDS” need not only be drudgery assistants but can be also intelligent ones to extract of better information or enable intelligent processing.

Beyond the DOING, the METHOD of doing and the AIDS lies interesting “human stuff” that as individuals we can exploit to do significantly better work. The first one is ENGAGEMENT- of engaging all the senses especially the “SEE/TOUCH/HEAR”, then immersing oneself and being in a flow, to unleashing the creative senses, and lastly being sharp and therefore doing far better work.

The CATALYST enables far better engagement of the senses to be able to unleash the sharp deductive/logical thought process powered by the left brain and the creative energy of the right brain.

It is not just about cold plain logic, but of thinking non-linearly, creatively, of enjoying the journey rather than just devise a detailed plan analytically. The “thinking APPROACH” of exploiting the combination of left and right brain paves the way for breakthrough thinking, of coming with variant approaches of not treading the same path, of staying curious.

The harmonious engagement of left and right brain, of being logical yet creative, plan meticulously of how-to-do, yet course correct and adjust rapidly, requires appropriate stimuli which is where “the representation STYLE” comes in.

It is about stimulating the various senses via crisp text, of non-linear representation like mind map, using creative sketching/diagram, and finally the writing styles of being imperative, declarative, interrogative to engage, sharpen, focus yet enable divergence.

This article is not pedagogic, nor prescriptive, but an attempt to weave the various elements into a interesting mosaic that enables one to understand the beautiful interplay of the DOING activities, the METHOD of doing, the AIDS, the CATALYST that aids doing, the thinking APPROACH, representation STYLE ‘jargonised’ as process, practice, templates, checklists, guidelines, techniques, heuristics, principle, good practices, creative/ad-hoc, disciplined, mind map, sketch, deep knowledge, experience.

It is the unique combination of these based on the context that fosters effective testing yet be efficient and consistent.

Cheers. Have a great day.

These elements of good testing have formed the backbone of “Immersive Session Testing” (IST).

Immersive Software Testing is a style of testing that exploits the logical left brain with the creative right, enabling you to immerse deeply and test in short sessions. Powered by HBT (Hypothesis Based Testing) that provides the scientific rigour and aided by “Workspaces” that provide the creative fluidity, it enables one to immerse, think logically, write less, do more with a sharp focus on outcome

NOTE : If you are curious about IST, click here for details of the one-day experiential workshop on Dec 9, 2016.

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