Becoming a science nerd…

Sometimes joining platforms like Twitter can lead to highly unexpected, but really great opportunities. One of those opportunities is being mentored by someone who I consider to be one of the lead experts in testing: Michael Bolton.

I’m a professional tester for quite a few years. But lately I had the feeling that something was “off”. In the Netherlands most approaches focus on organizing testing. People came accustomed with getting scripted test cases, mostly based on formal test design techniques. Yet, these artifacts and techniques are tools and require an immense amount of time. Customer quality satisfaction often became heavily overshadowed by the high financial investment that comes with testing a product this way. This didn’t quite suite the way i want to be of service to my clients.

My question: Is there an approach which sustains, or maybe even elevating the satisfaction of my customers, without having negative impact on my services?

Well, I found out there is! Just a few months after i first came in contact with Michael Bolton i participated in the Rapid Software Testing course. The course was held in Amsterdam in juli 2010.

Some of the key elements why i personally enjoyed this course:

  • high level of interactivity;
  • safe environment to succeed, but especially to fail (which is key factor for learning);
  • very cognitively engaging!;
  • hands-on experience;

Some of the things i took home with me and now help me on daily basis:

  • heuristics. Not that I didn’t apply them before the course, but now that I’m aware of them I tend to utilize them better.
  • models. We all creat models in our mind. During the course I became more aware that my personal models are also fallible. I now actively question my models, just like I would question every other phisical artifact which describes a product.
  • oracles. They help me to recognize a problem. This course made me aware of the many oracles that I took for granted (or took as a “fact”).
  • recognizing and managing bias. We have so many that we’re unaware of. Many which influence our daily behavior.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to talk about. Take my advice, take a peek at the RST slides, which are freely available, and you know what I mean: http://www.satisfice.com/rst.pdf

Best of all… the course didn’t stop after these three days! Both Michael and James offered their assistance whenever you feel stuck or need reflection of ideas…

One of the best things this course and all the conversations on Twitter instignated is my interest for science. Especially cognitive science. This new experience resulted in me actually reading my first book. Yes, at age of 33 i started reading. Ofcourse, i read before. But that was more to kill time. Now I really read out of interest. Actually, the first book I ever bought online is “Secrets of a Buccanneer Scholar” by James Bach. When I was reading it, I thought “hey, this is my life story!”… But I will blog about that some other time. Nevertheless, my book collection is still growing!…

Michael, thank you for enlightening my thoughts about testing. Back then, during the course, and still now. Thanks for making me a science nerd instead of ‘just’ a test nerd 😉

PS. I noticed that i didn’t even mentioned “Exploratory Testing” ones. Well, to me it’s more important about why, when and how you do it than how you call it 😉

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