Saturday, October 1, 2016

Learning on Exploratory Testing from other teachers

If there's anything I think I know something of, exploratory testing would be it. It's the thing I love, it's the thing I learn through practice and trying to get into the heads of others who practice it.

I'm absolutely excited for next week, when I get to learn more about exploratory testing teaching together with Maaike Brinkhof. Maaike seems to look at me as I look at her: with respect and expecting to learn tons. Finding people who are into exploring as I am is rare, and I believe that interest is a driving factor in learning to be good at it. We already had a blast remote pair testing finding problems I did not expect we'd run into even if the application we were testing was something I had tested before.

At Test Master's Academy workshop day, I got to spend half-a-day in a Tutorial about Exploratory Testing in Agile. It turned out to be almost like a peer workshop, with people comparing experiences of what made exploration hard in their organizations and what approaches we had used to include exploring in agile. I learned that most people framed exploration as something they time-boxed into their processes, while for me it's the thinking that drives testing and engulfs also the decisions about automation. I learned the level of trust we had managed to establish in our organizations significantly differed.

The workshop was run by Alessandra Moreira, and I absolutely loved the depth of her experiences. And yet, she did not make it about her lecturing to us, but her letting us have a dialog and her pitching in from her experiences of the challenges and solutions.

My favorite insight I came out with was that while what I call the artifact-oriented view to testing (others prefer the word checking) gives us in contractor settings the information on how well we're fulfilling the contract, the performance-oriented exploratory testing (others prefer the word testing) gives us information about the reputational risk. We might fulfill the letter of the contract, yet we risk unhappy customer without exploratory testing.
Bernie Berger, a fellow tester in the workshop lead me to a realization. There's two kinds of reputational risk. There's my reputation at risk as a tester and the contractor's reputation towards the client. I thought of the latter at first, but the first is one that I find I've needed to manage a lot in the non-contractual settings. "Why did you miss this bug?" used to be a phrase that I needed find an almost automatic answer for.