”That’s called ’quengaruk’ or a bank of snow,” the guide explained,”and this is what you call ’muruaneq’, soft, deep snow.”
I’ve lived all my life in northern Finland, surrounded by snow for half of the year. Yet, all of those strange words for snow were new for me. In the Finnish language, we only have a few.
As the guide continued the explanation, I had to ask,’How many words exactly are there for snow in Inuit languages?’
’Well, I don’t know for sure,’ he replied, ’there is a common myth that there might even be 50 words’
The realization hit me as a software testing professional.
For years I had gone about trying to convince people about the importance of software testing. Yet, we were not on the same page at all.
I had 50 different concepts that I used to describe the methods and results of my profession. And at the same time, the people I met only had one or two.
No wonder it was so hard to navigate the snowy scenery of software testing with clients and bosses, who had no words to tell things apart.
You can experiment on the idea too, by considering this. Who is more likely to survive a hike across a snow-covered glacier, someone who knows how to identify, name, and communicate a dangerous looking bank of snow or someone who doesn’t?
Over the years, I’ve changed my approach with dramatic results.
When my goal is to educate people about the importance of testing, I start by building their vocabulary and meaning first.
People’s ability to distinguish activities and outcomes inside testing results in far better able to make decisions.
For example, there are different methods for hunting new bugs, and there are other methods for checking if the software still works as it did last week. If people can’t tell these things apart, how can they level-up their decisions either?
When you seek to lead your clients, colleagues, and bosses towards better testing, one of your core skills is to sharpen their resolution around all things testing.
Can you explain what a bug is? What about exploratory testing? What does quality assurance mean for you or your boss?
I call this ability the Concept-Resolution. The higher the resolution, the better the decisions.
Building this ability starts by learning to see and explain things to yourself first. Then start learning how to teach those things to others.
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