reinventing the wheel
I liken my experience of creating an Exploratory Testing workshop as similar to recreating the wheel. It would be easy to copy someone else's version of a wheel, after all there are a lot of great wheels out there. Alternatively, I could create my own wheel. But how do I do that? How do you improve on the wheel?
My feelings about holding such a workshop range from massive excitement to extreme anxiety as I grapple will the question, "What the hell am I going to talk about"?
I'm not talking about the content, there as been plenty written on Exploratory Testing and I could spend weeks just reading up on other peoples articles, notes etc. If I wanted to, I could re-regurgitate lots of excellent material on the subject. But I have a problem with that approach. In fact I have two problems (maybe even three if you take into account the massive attack of self doubt I had this morning!) with that approach.
The first one is this.
How do you teach Exploratory Testing? As James Bach writes in his article Exploratory Testing Explained and something I WHOLEHEARTEDLY concur with (through bitter experience!) is that:
Among the hardest things to explain is something that everyone already knows. We all know how to listen, how to read, how to think, and how to tell anecdotes about the events in our lives. As adults, we do these things everyday. Yet the level of any of these skills, possessed by the average person, may not be adequate for certain special situations. Psychotherapists must be expert listeners and lawyers expert readers; research scientists must scour their thinking for errors and journalists report stories that transcend parlor anecdote.
So it is with exploratory testing (ET)
The second problem I have is that
If the workshop is going to be any good, I know it has to come from the heart, my heart.
So even if I was tempted to say take James Bach's course and deliver it (anyone who takes his course has this permission, as long as credit is given) it would be pointless. Because I know it has to be my story, what my understanding of ET is, not anyone else's. Its one of the reasons why James's course is so damn good. His conviction comes through because its HIS story.
As an exercise, creating an ET workshop is a great challenge. It demands the ultimate in story telling. There is nothing better to confirm/challenge your beliefs and/or understanding than to articulate it in front of a class.
There is also nothing more humbling. It makes you realise how much I have still to learn. As part of my effort in creating this course I'm reviewing familiar documentation again. In particular James's RST slides.Looking at these slides in a critical way has been very beneficial. Its made me question my depth of understanding of some of its content.
Its been a good morning though. I've made some baby steps and have got some ideas that I feel I can call my own.
I know that the workshop is to be practical, and I have a few ideas in mind on that. The challenge is to use the exercises to teach an ET point.
What the workshop(or the wheel) will end up looking like, I'm not yet too sure. One thing I do know is that as time evolves it will become more and more my own story and yes, my wheel.