Friday, 25 October 2013

Catalyst for Curiosity

Yesterday I was asked to speak to a room of testers who all work at the same organisation. They were on a training course, and I was asked to visit for half an hour to speak about "Testing Mind Maps".

The room was varied. Four people did not know what a mind map was. One guy claimed to have been using mind maps for over 10 years and expressed some bitterness that the Bach brothers were internationally recognised for doing things that he had done first. With 30 minutes to speak and such a wide breadth of skill, it was difficult to say something valuable for everyone. So, I spoke for a bit, with a handful of people nodding along and others looked stricken.

Then my colleague posed a question to the group. "How is it that there's such a wide variety of knowledge in this room when you all work in the same place? What's your internal process for knowledge sharing?"

There was a moment of silence, followed by a flood of excuses.

"We used to do lunch time sessions, but then people got too busy and no one came"
"We have a wiki, but no one really uses it"
"We used to pair up junior and senior testers, but now our focus is delivery"
"We sit in project teams instead of a test team, so we don't see each other often"

This made me question my own experiences with knowledge sharing; pockets of knowledge spread across multiple repositories, accompanied by individual processes for access and sharing. Though rarely ignored entirely, this scatter-gun approach means that knowledge transfer is usually left to those who are eager to learn. A pull rather than a push. If we want to see better transfer of knowledge, we need to create curiosity.

When we talked about change at KWST3, there was a common experience among attendees of a catalyst that set them on a path of education. Curiosity comes from someone or something that makes you want to learn more. I like to imagine that a half an hour chat about mind maps will be a catalyst for some of my audience yesterday.

Who is creating the catalyst for curiosity where you work? How is your knowledge being shared?

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