I had the pleasure of seeing Martin Hynie give a talk at Test Bash Manchester, he showed on one of his slides the many roles he has filled, and it was many. He then went on to question if we should be called testers. He explained that when people think of tests and testing they may think of their experience sitting doing tests for their GCSE’s or A levels even their degrees.
Michael Bolton then came on stage as the closing talk and he explained how we should be called testers and that the definition of testing has just been stolen and we needed to claim it back. He gave testing this nice little explanation:
“Testing is the process of evaluating a product by learning about it through exploration”
I wanted to consider what Martin and Michael were both saying myself and explore what I thought of testing and what it as I did.
I looked at a normal day for me at work and saw a common thread I spend a large amount of my time, no matter what I am doing, communicating. I communicate about what we are doing or what we are going to do. I communicate about the product. I attend stand-up we talk about yesterday’s work and todays work and I question if necessary or point things out that might not have been thought of. I attend meetings they might be backlog refinement, general stuff possible some Testing catch ups. Where again we will discuss what is going on again question things possible take notes. I may get to have some time with the product test some stories where again I will discuss any problems that I may see or any improvements that might be worth considering or just how well it went.
Is that it is my role to communicate?
I had a discussion with Michael about my thoughts and as he rightly explained a role is a heuristic and should not be treated as a prison cell ( Please visit here for Michael's blog on roles.) It is something you are given because you can fill that position you have the skills to complete it alongside any other roles you may have at the time. I have many roles but they are all linked by one core skill communication. Without good communication, I cannot fulfil any of my roles. Alan Barker writes in Improve Your Communication Skills, ‘Communication is the process of creating shared understanding’. Is that not what we are always trying to do?
This reminded me of another talk given by Vera Gehlan-Baum About meta-cognition. It was a talk about how important it was to keep learning and self-improving, meta-cognition being a method to help with this. I wanted to investigate communication as a skill more as I felt it was a skill that I needed to improve on. Being a good communicator can be hard there can be so many things that block good communication, Communication skills for the workplace written by Wendell Anderson states the common blockers to good communication as:
- Differences in perception and language
- Poor Listening
- Physical Distractions
- Cultural Differences
Communication is a skill it can be nurtured and grown as any skill and as a tester it should be something we are constantly trying to improve. It exists in every role that we do or may do it will help us become better testers and help make the team become a better team.
Hopefully you have enjoyed my little adventure after Test Bash Manchester and have seen how important these events are to help us in self-development. I will now be doing a series of blogs on what I learn while investigating communication and how I have applied this knowledge in the work place and more importantly I will be highlighting the mistakes I have made during this process.