Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Ignoring the liver

I had the privilege of hearing Dr Ingrid Visser speak at the Altrusa International Convention this weekend. Dr Visser is a marine biologist who specialises in orca research.

Orca & Stingray

Orca hunt stingray in a group. When a stingray is successfully caught, the group gather at the surface to share the meal, ripping the stingray apart. Dr Visser observed that, when sharing a meal of stingray, the orca avoided eating the liver. She published a paper stating that New Zealand orca did not eat stingray liver, potentially due to the toxins the liver contains.

Since this publication, Dr Visser has observed New Zealand orca eating stingray liver. This revelation lead her to ask herself the following three questions of her previous research:

  • What did I miss?
  • What did I do wrong?
  • What has changed?

Dr Visser stated that being open to challenging what is believed to be true is essential for scientists; she uses these three questions to examine her thinking.

Challenging our thinking

As a tester, we too should feel obligated to question what we believe to be true. I believe the context driven school of testing is borne of frustration in those who have stopped asking these questions. Each acknowledge a degree of failure; in asking I acknowledge that I have made a mistake. They are difficult questions to pose, but those who stop asking questions are at risk of becoming zombies.

The ability to identify new ideas and then truly question whether they should supplant your own thinking is  necessary to grow our skills as testers regardless of school. Those who identify as context driven testers should not become complacent in our thinking, or restrict the opportunity for critique only to those who identify as being part of our community. It can be easy to dismiss ideas that challenge you as being from a different school of thought. But in doing so, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to learn.

I believe that these questions should be called upon by every tester when they feel confronted. What did I miss? What did I do wrong? What has changed?

1 comment:

  1. Remember what I've said about marine biologists. They make the best testers ...