A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about childhood views on the world and how we need to grow beyond those simple concepts we learned once upon a time, and develop an adult view of the world.  This allows us to continue growing and learning. 

It is only fair that as I write this, it is one week until Christmas Day – that much anticipated, looked for and hoped for day by people all around me.  Children and adults alike look forward to the wonder of the season.

Yet it is in this season that so many people rush in soon and quickly. The anticipation of childhood, the waiting, the excitement, is part of what makes the “magic of Christmas” well, magic – and I think is missing for many people these days.

It is the sharing of this feeling that makes things so… wonderful for so many people. Still, it is the idealized memory of what Christmas “should” be that causes so many people so much stress. I suspect that at least part of this is related to the ever-earlier start of “Christmas Shopping Season” – This year it seemed to be mid-October and Christmas displays were up in shopping malls.

Except I am not writing about Christmas.  I’ve been thinking about testing a lot lately.

If there is one thing I’d suggest to people when it comes to testing is, take a deep breath and wait a moment.  Make a nice cup of tea. There are practical reasons for what so many non-tea drinkers look at as rituals around tea.

Things like heating fresh cool water, warming the tea pot with hot water, pouring out the hot water, adding the tea leaves to the pot (I prefer leaves in an infuser – some use tea bags, and that’s OK, at the office I do the same thing.) Then pouring the not-quite-boiling water into the pot and … tea.

But that takes waiting a moment.  It takes knowing the right time to do the right thing.  Not too soon and not too late.

The thing with testing I’ve seen lately – so many people want to charge in and test stuff.  NOW! Just DIVE IN!

I might suggest making a tea… or a coffee if you prefer.  I like a really good cup of coffee, too. I blogged about that once upon a time. I really like a good cup of coffee.

Ask some questions. I might start with asking something like “Why are we doing this? What do we hope to learn from testing this? If you are telling me how you want the software tested, will that ‘how’ answer the question ‘why’?”

This might seem obvious to some people I often associate with. To others, I think they might not understand why.

Another set of questions might start with something like, “Is there something we should probably know about this that we have not considered?”  Another way to ask that might be “Is there something acting against the system, or the data that is used by the system, that is important? Maybe that we have not asked about? Is there something that ‘everybody knows’ we have not thought about?”

If you are testing a system that you have been participating in developing, some of these questions may not be so important – if you have been in the discussions around how the software should work, and why. Of course, when it comes to that, it might be important to ask yourself if you have built up an immunity to such things. Your certainty and understanding might be of value. Then again, if you clear your head and have a tea, then what happens if you look again with fresh eyes?

When you are handed software and told to “just test it” then remember that sometimes waiting a bit allows you to discover something you had not considered. Asking questions of people might reveal something important to you.

Those questions might tell you something about the software.  The problem I see time and again is that people want to try and force the issue. They, or their bosses or developers or managers or PMs or someone, want them to jump in too soon.

Take the time to see what things look like after a tea, or a coffee.  You might learn something about the software. You might learn something about the attitude of people you work with toward testing.

You might also learn something about yourself.