Mindful Testing – something like meditation for your testing project
Why do we need mindful testing?
In case this is not a trivial question, based on your personal experience, the simple truth is that today’s work environment tends to be noisy, chaotic, and full of interruptions.
And this is not only for those working in Open Spaces or Cubicles!
I can attest from my personal experience, working in an office, that people simply enter and leave my room, interrupting and asking questions, ALL-THE-TIME!
They are not coming to ask about what I did on the weekend (at least not most of the time…), and the questions they have are important and relevant to their work, but none-the-less these questions cut my line of thought like a laser, and make it close to impossible to go back to the same point where I left my previous task only seconds before.
The problem resides on our working culture, where (1) everyone works on many tasks and all tasks are handled by multiple people, (2) everything needs to be done NOW and ASAP, and (3) informality and openness are seen as a positive tools in all circumstances.
I am writing this blog post from home, and not from the office!
Well guys, I am sorry to break the news to you this way, but NO, INFORMALITY IS NOT POSITIVE ALL THE TIME!
Sometimes people need peace and quiet to get things done.
As a matter of fact, right now I am writing this blog post from home, because after failing to get this simple task done (and to get another 5 very important tasks done) in the last 5 days, I decided to stay home to actually get some quiet time, and get things done.
I closed my Slack, set my Skype to away, my phone to silent, opened a quiet playlist on Spotify, and started to work on all those tasks that require my full attention to complete.
working from coffee shopI know, I have ADHD, and this may aggravate my susceptiveness to interruptions. But I hear also from other people at my workplace that do not have ADHD/ADD or any kind of attention disorder, they still take days or half-days working from home or coffee shops “to get things done”.
Ergo – it is hard to get (some) things done while at the office, regardless of who you are!
OK, back to this mindfulness mumbo-jumbo
It is actually very simple.
Mindfulness is a trend about learning to concentrate on the “here and now”, in order to be fully committed to the task or thought process, you are intending to do.
You can do a mindful reading, by making sure you not only go over the words but try to understand the message the author was conveying. Mindful conversationYou can have a mindful conversation, by putting the phone down (really, you can do it if you try) and paying close attention to the person in front of you. A special bonus if you capture both the verbal and the body language!
You can even do mindful eating, if you make sure to enjoy your food and understand when you are satisfied, instead of browsing Facebook and taking to Mike during lunch. This way you may actually stop eating on time, and not when you realize all the food in the table is gone and you feel like an over-bloated elephant leaving walking back to your desk. Nothing wrong with elephants, I really really love elephants! Scout’s honor!
You can also do mindful work and more specifically mindful testing.
My definition of mindful testing
I think different people can define mindful testing in different ways so I will try to bring mine forward, and I would love to hear how others define it in the comments section of this blog post.
For me, mindful testing is when we are fully focused and concentrated on the testing task at hand.
When we start the task by understanding the objective of our test; by measuring the actual status of the feature and product we are testing; by reviewing the previous tests that were done on the feature or product we are testing, together with the issues found and the way they were handled.
Mindful testing also means finding and defining the environment or at least the setup of the system/s we are about to test. And if you cannot define the testing environment yourself, at least understand the one you have at hand to realize how it can affect the feature and your testing.
It also means finding the physical place and time when you can test without being interrupted – while this is important in itself, many people mistakingly think it is the whole of mindful testing.
Regardless if you are running a scripted test or an exploratory session, mindful testing means that you will have your eyes and your mind 110% open, looking for things that do not make sense or that are wrong. Remembering that the most interesting bugs are the ones that are hiding in plain sight and that people did not even think to look for, but they are still there and we will still want to fix them.
Mindful testing means that we are “so much into our testing”, that we can look at the system based on different angles at the same time. Looking from a user perspective, but also from an administrator perspective, from an integrations perspective, many times from a security perspective, and from an accessibility perspective, and even from an aesthetic perspective.
And all of this without having to repeat yourself and list every time you push a button or enter the text “Hello World 365!” in a field.
Practice makes perfect
The problem with mindful testing is that it is not trivial, it takes experience and preparation, and you really need to be concentrated to do it.
And so it is hard to accomplish, so much so that I am sure many full-time testers have not really done it in all their professional years testing.
Mindful testing is also something you cannot do by chance. It is a conscious action that you need to choose to do, and work hard to achieve.
Still, from a testing perspective, it is the best kind of testing you can do, and many great testers will even define it as the only type of real testing to be done.
About Joel Montvelisky
Joel Montvelisky is a Co-Founder and Chief Solution Architect at PractiTest. He has been in testing and QA since 1997, working as a tester, QA Manager and Director, and Consultant for companies in Israel, the US, and the EU.
Joel is a Forbes council member, and a blogger. In addition, he's the founder and Chair of the OnlineTestConf, the co-founder of the State of Testing survey and report, and a Director at the Association of Software Testing. Joel is a conference speaker, presenting in various conferences and forums worldwide, among them the STAR Conferences, STPCon, JaSST, TestLeadership Conf, CAST, QA&Test, and more.