I have a confession to make and it may be shocking you may not want to continue reading this blog but I must make it. I am not capable of creating a good mind map. This may be shocking news to some how can I test without using mind maps how do I make notes I must be a terrible person! While I am sure that is an extreme reaction it is what I want to talk about, individuals and how one shoe does not fit all. I like mind maps and it drives me crazy when I see someone do one by hand or even straight on the computer. They are so artistic the way you can colour code them and make them flow is amazing. They get the information across in a fantastic way so why can’t I do the same. I have tried but they never come out right they’re not artistic and colourful. I think they are a fantastic tool for testers I just can’t use them to their full potential.
I like structure but if you see my hand-written notes I worship chaos. Structure and chaos, they can’t go together surely. For me they do, if you have read a previous blog of mine Testing the Umbrella I explain the structure I use for my tests. I write out the Goals of the test I am about to do, note down any Initial Knowledge I may have and document any Research that I have had to do before the test. They are the three things I should do before any actual testing. Now I may just make a mental note of these but for bigger tasks I write them down. This is the structure part of me I need it to focus my thoughts and to organise my next hour or so of work.
The actual test is chaos (gasps from the crowd), what I mean by this is that my note taking is chaos. I don’t have any order in my notes I write across the lines instead of following them and there is no mapping. I generally use different colours for no apparent reason, red is not for problems and green is not for good. Only I could interpret these random markings understand their structure and pattern. This is obviously not a problem plenty of people take notes in their own way. I have seen some very artistic ones and some people just like to list stuff out. This is what makes testing in a team so cool we are all individuals and we all have our own unique way of doing things.
We are all different with lots of different skills and those skills can lead to us testing things differently. I don’t see this as a bad thing in fact I think this is something that should be celebrated and looked at when putting a team together. Beren Van Daele covers this at a higher level in his technical paper he did for Euro Star called Kolbs Testing Cycle. He discusses how learning and learning techniques have great value within the testing community. He explains the learning process and how there are different types of learner. He then goes on to show how these types can be transposed to different types of tester and how they may prefer different strategies.
I myself do not hold to just following one way of thinking. I like to take what works for me at the current time in my current context. I like to see how other people work and how they create testing magic but if I see something I like I won’t do it exactly like they do it I will try to apply it to my style of working and the context of the testing I am currently involved in. If it doesn’t work for me I won’t just throw it away and say that was a ridiculous idea. I will put it on my testing tool kit shelf as a good way of working but currently not relevant. Some ideas or techniques may never work for me I still store them so that when I come across someone who uses it to their advantage I know what they are doing I understand their current thinking.
This brings me back to my mind map jealousy so while I can’t create wonderful tests using mind maps like Michael Bolton and others. I can’t make it look all pretty and let it talk for itself. I can use other techniques that work for me. This is the most important factor of testing you should use what works for you and the context you are currently working in. If you can show that the results of what you are doing are positive and have a positive effect on the testing and the team then no one should be forcing you down a different route. Learn from others but don’t fall into the trap of thinking because that’s how they do it and it works for them then it must be the way you should do it. Take their ideas and try to apply it to your way of working and if it doesn’t work don’t worry about it, it just wasn’t suitable for you.
Well this is the end of another short rambling from me hope you can take something away from it even if it is just that I am as mad as a hatter. Please get in contact if you have any questions my twitter and linkedin accounts are linked to my page. Enjoy and be well.