Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Emotions and trigger words in exploring

This post is inspired from two sessions of mob exploratory testing. I did one in Agile Serbia -conference on Saturday, and Llewellyn Falco did one on pre-Craftconf meetup in Hungary reusing my session description.

In discussing his experience of facilitating exploratory testing mob without me, it was interesting to notice what he had chosen to use from me and what he seemed to do differently. Here's what I learned:
  • We both emphasize the private role of the mindmaps created while exploring. It's not a final deliverable and an external document, it's something intended to help you (your mob) while you're testing. 
  • He emphasizes more the tracking of concepts on the mindmap than me. It seems I treat the product as my external imagination so that the mindmap is more of a secondary tool for me, whereas he treats the mindmap as a necessary model that needs to be built right from the start. I speculate that the different role we're seeing is related to me primarily thinking of all testing as performance (practice before making pretty much any documents) and he still has the strong developer background that might be driving him towards testing as artifact creation. More discussion on the differences in belief systems clearly needed to understand this.
  • We both emphasize paying attention to the emotions while you test, but there is a clear difference in how we try to communicate that. He taught his group to pay attention to trigger words revealing negative emotions: "This is confusing", "I wasn't expecting that". Basically any negative sentiment, frustration and confusing being the most common ones. Trigger words should, as he explained, lead to making a note that drives a discussion about a possible bug with the developers. When I lead a teaching mob, I alert the groups on emotions in general. We both note that there's a lot of uncertainty around on what to speak up about among testers, leading teams to lose information they could have readily available. The encouragement to speak up through feelings is necessary.
I find Llewellyn makes an excellent case for developers picking up the thinking patterns around exploring. Learning from various mob exploratory sessions with testers around the world is probably the quickest way to get practical ideas from people's heads. You should try it too. Let me know if I can help!