Envision how you test…

Try an experiment.

Take five minutes right now (if you have it… and you must if you are reading my blog) and I want you to think about how you would like to test. Picture yourself testing for an hour. It’s a perfect hour with no email, no phone calls, and no interruptions (unless you need them for your testing). What happens? Get a pad of paper and write down everything that happens in that hour of testing in your mind. What actions do you take? What types of tests are you executing? Are you alone or with someone? Who? Do you record results as you go along or at the end? Are they automated or manual? What kind of bugs do you picture yourself finding? Are they spectacular bugs or trivial? Write all of this information down. Capture as much as you can. Try to paint a picture with words. Describe the techniques, the software, the tools, the people, the process, your desk, how much Mountain Dew you drink, how often you use Google (the Swiss-army knife of testing), etc….

Now take another five minutes. Flip the page and start a new list and a new description. Write about a real hour of testing at your current job. What does it look like? How many interruptions do you get? Do you get to execute all the tests you wanted to? Did you find any bugs? Were they good or just ok? Did anyone help you or were you alone? Did you learn anything knew? Was your brain as engaged as it could have been? Did you have to write code or use a really cool tool? How many times did you yawn? Did you even get to test, was the build broken, or was there a problem with the environment preventing you from testing? Describe how you feel and what you actually accomplish. Again try to paint a picture with words. What is a real hour of your time at work? Did you even get to test or were you in a meeting?

Now take another five minutes (last five I promise). Compare the two lists. Are you doing everything you pictured yourself doing? Why not? Is there a good reason? I said a good reason… What simple things could you do to move more items from that first list to the second list? Write those things down. Write down how you can move from one list to the other.

Now tape, tack, or glue each of those three lists somewhere in your cube for one week and read them everyday. Add information to the third list (the problem solving list) as you discover it. This is the list that grows over time. Don’t be afraid to take it down and add more comments to it.

Come back in a week and answer the following question: Did your testing change once you started actively thinking about it and how you wanted it to be?