Back in May I responded to the question “Which advice would you give your younger (#Tester) self?” like this:
Learn to deal with, rather than shy away from, uncertainty.#testing https://t.co/Db8Uj1HGyU
— James Thomas (@qahiccupps) May 25, 2016
Last week I was reminded of the question as I found myself sketching the same diagram three times for three different people on three different whiteboards.
The diagram represents my mind’s-eye view of a problem space, a zone of uncertainty, a set of unresolved questions, a big cloud of don’t know with a rather fuzzy border:
A useful heuristic for me is that if I find myself thinking about the insides too much – if something I expect to be in is leaking out – then probably I didn’t tighten the band enough and I need to revisit.
When I’m exploring, the band can represent an assumption that I’m testing rather than some action that I’ve taken. “if this were true, then the remaining uncertainty would look that way and so I should be able to …”
I like this way of picturing things even though the model itself doesn’t help me with specific next moves. What it does do, which I find valuable, is remind me that when I have uncertainty I don’t have to work it out in one shot.
P.S. While writing this, I realised that I’ve effectively written it before, although in a much more technical way: On Being a Test Charter.