One of the biggest risks even the best tester can fall for is the “Tester’s Auto-Pilot“. This is when we test automatically without noticing what we are doing – while we may think about last night’s TV show or the conversation we just had with a friend…
This can become an even bigger problem if we are good testers, and even in this auto-pilot / semi-zombie state we are occasionally able to find good bugs.
Why is finding bugs a problem? because then we run the risk of having a false sense of confidence.
And this self-overconfidence will be there until the day you end up with a very big and ugly bug that slipped because you were not fully concentrated in your work.
Then it will not be OK, not OK at all.
You need to focus on your work – Always
Professionals, regardless of their profession, need to fully focus on the task at hand (this is also regardless of the task).
For testers, this is no different.
We need to be fully focused-committed-engaged-involved with the tests we are running, inspecting the application for issues we think may be there, and especially awake in order to see and detect the issues we did not even imagine might be there.
But, how can you do this? Especially when we are running the test for the 5th or 10th or 20th time?
There are a number of ways to achieve this:
– You can find your “zone”
– You can pre-visualize your test
– You can put together a set of heuristics to guide you
All of these are good, important, and they work. But today I want to talk about an attribute, not a technique, that in my mind helps to make a good tester that can fully focus on his testing tasks.
It is true that “curiosity killed the cat”, but curiosity is, in this case, one of the things that keeps the tester alive.
To understand this concept, I want you to think about your non-testing tasks, I want you to think about something as mundane as watching TV.
When the show you are watching is interesting, when you are curious about it, you get immersed in it. Sometimes we are so focused on the TV that we lose track of time and stop noticing things like the phone or people talking next to us. You basically fall into the show and become an active part of it.
Now, stop thinking about TV and think about testing.
When you are curious about the System Under Test (SUT) you also get immersed in it, searching and looking for different features and actions, observing its behavior, and finding even the small inconsistencies (you cannot even call them bugs) that may point to important issues under the surface.
Generating curiosity in your task
Unlike popular belief, curiosity is not something that only comes unsolicited.
I know, and mostly because I have seen it in others and I’ve learned how to do it myself, you can become actively curious about something or about a task, as long as you have a genuine interest in doing your job right.
By being actively curious and completely immersed in the testing task at hand you will have a better chance of finding the important bugs and understanding the behavior of the system (and faster). Then, you can find your professional motivation to enter your testing zone and look at the system like a puzzle or a treasure hunt to focus your efforts completely.
For me, the trick here was and is to understand that even curiosity is an attribute that I can develop, as long as I have the discipline and the understanding of why I need do it in order to get things right.
So what gets you in “the zone”?
What piques your curiosity? and how do you get motivated?
Let me know in the comments 🙂
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