Saturday, January 4, 2020

Tester Superpowers

In August 2019, on a lovely day after the Conference for Association for Software Testing (CAST), a small group of people got together for a day to discuss Exploratory Testing. As second in the series of Exploratory Testing Workshops, I today remembered the piece that excited me most to learn in this one. I learned that testers have insightful and unique ways to describe what they do at work that seems to surprise people and make them unique. We called them Superpowers, and I collected what I could in tweets, recognizing commonality to what I find myself doing.
Synthesis is about information collection, pattern creation and use of information in ways that are surprising. Testers, with their cognitive focus on digesting and sharing information, become knowledgeable on the products and decisions. It is not the same as having good memory, but a very selective memory to collect pieces that turn useful later.
Holding space is a superpower I dedicated a talk into at TestBash NL some years back, coming to the realization that sometimes quality and testing happens by just having me in the room. The holding space for people may be slightly different than holding space for themes. The idea that we don't only focus on the negative but build people (because people build quality) as their colleagues is a powerful one.
Listening sounds easier than it is. Hearing beyond words, getting to what people mean and how that connects in time with other things people say is an information intake method crucial for action. We don't listen to respond, we listen to learn. Much of what we listen to requires later processing for the learning to emerge - the connections are both in the moment but also over time.
Structuring is seeing patterns and not only keeping the learning about patterns to yourself, but digesting it for others. Reporting in testing is based on finding ways of explaining things that are complex, but still explaining them in an actionable way is possible.

With a small group, I wrote down only a few - and not my own one. Months later, I can't remember what I said in the round of describing our superpowers, or if I was using my to scribe things for further analysis. What's your superpower?