I will need to give Rob Lambert credit for planting the seed for this post with a comment he left on a totally unrelated post about Company Politics and QA, when he mentioned learning from his kid how to pick his fights. This got me thinking that we have many more things to learn from our kids, specially the way to improve how we approach our tests.
I got 2 kids at home; a boy who’s almost 2 years old, and a girl who’s almost 2 months old. From playing, interacting, and simply from looking at them I’ve been able to grasp some practices and approachesto improve my testing tasks and results.
Curiosity – even if he has seen the same closed box hundreds of times, my son needs to open it in order to know what’s in it.
Skepticism – he doesn’t believe me when I tell him there is nothing in the box, he opens it just in case I might have forgotten something cool inside.
Emotional motivation – regardless if he wants to climb to the sofa, to climb up the stairs, or hold the dog’s leash when we go out for a walk, you can always perceive the motivation in my son’s eyes that make him give everything he has in order perform the task.
Get on your feet fast and keep on going – Kids are not ashamed to fall down while learning to walk, they lick their bruises (sometimes literally) and get up to continue trying.
Not getting stuck too long in one thing – Children are excellent smoke-testers, they know how to play exactly 15 seconds with each of their toys until they reach the one that is interesting enough to spend more time with it. And even with the interesting toy, after 5 minutes they know to move along to the next toy in line until they’ve gone over all their repertoire (some times twice!).
Analyze and take stuff apart – I’ve seen Ariel (my old boy) take apart stuff that I didn’t know could be separated, just give him time and he will understand what pieces can fall apart. Then he will examine each one of them individually to try and find fun things to do with it too.
Watch and learn – They are constantly looking at what’s happening around them and learning, they sometimes are even able to learn from the experience of others (something I wish I was able to do myself!)
Not afraid or ashamed to ask for help – When my kid wants to play with something and he’s not able to get it functioning, once he is done throwing it and expecting it to work he brings it to me so that I can help him. Just imagine how great it would be having an employee, a boss or even a peer smart enough to try to work a problem by himself, and then if he gets stuck or fails to ask for help…
Use all your senses – Give something new to a kid and he will start by looking at it from all sides, then he will touch it and try to find if there are buttons or stuff to take apart, then he will simultaneously smell and lick it; and only then he will throw it to see if something cool happens when it falls. Kids use all their senses when trying to understand something.
Personally I think the most important thing I can learn from my kids is to look at all other kids without prejudices, and to give each new person an equal chance the first (and sometimes also the second and third) time they meet them.
So next time you have the opportunity, take a look at your kids (or your nieces and nephews if you are too young!) and try to learn something from them about how to do your tests.
If you have something additional to learn from our kids please send it to me so that I can add it to my training list!
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