Bob Likes to Be Coached, Alice Likes to Be Teached, Both Like Study Groups
19.02.12 - 16:35 - Filed in: Software Testing
In a book - I cannot remember which one - I read that if you print a math formula you will immediately lose 90% of your audience. I am free from worry here, because you - dear readers - are all nerds and number maniacs. So, I know you stay with me. And the ones who are about to leave soon, I’d like to offer some compassionate farewell words:
“Bye, Bye, and may you always remain unbothered and safe from formulas wherever you go .”
Ok, my dear socially awkwards, here we go. Something you often encounter in your tester life is the following:
k(a) > k(b)
k = testing knowledge
a = e.g. Alice
b = e.g. Bob
let’s further define that “knowledge k” may consist but is not restricted to the following:
- number of books/articles about software testing or other useful topics read, understood and successfully applied in practice
- knowledge gained through collaboration with experienced masters
- empirically gained knowledge
let’s also further define that:
- Alice (a) and Bob (b) are human beings
- and more specifically testing human beings.
or to put it in simple words that wouldn’t have shied away 90% of the readers:
Alice knows more about software testing than Bob
So, both Alice and Bob work in your team. If your goal is to advance the knowledge of your people what would you do? And now comes the crucial question:
Who should teach whom?
Alice should teach Bob, of course, you might say. Now, let me tell you my dear friend that the gun shot answer to that question is wrong. Again, as you should know from your testing experience the obvious solution is at best incomplete. Same here. Of course Alice knows more about testing and can teach Bob quite a lot. But maybe Bob is a natural born coach and can therefore coach Alice. A coach is not somebody who knows more but somebody who can elicit self-learning in people.
Furthermore, they could together form a study group where the dynamics of the group helps them both to advance. And certainly advance more than if they had studied alone.
There are also some dysfunctional learning devices, such as:
- criticism: “I don’t like that you don’t know it better”
- demanding: “I want you to know that! Now!”
- ex-cathedra lecturing: “Test Plan, bla, bla, bla, bla, important, bla, bla, bla,….”
Let’s wrap up:
If your team wants to become really good at software testing it helps to constantly keep on learning. There are many possible paths to advance the groups knowledge. Choose the right paths. And: Just because you don’t like something (e.g. a formula) you shouldn’t give up right away. Be open for new experiences. There is no place for narrow-mindedness in software testing.