In an uncertain world, your team wants answers. Project managers want to know when you can ship. Project owners want testing to be done. Developers want to know that you’ve caught all the bugs. Testers can find jobs getting paid to assure people of a product’s quality. But I don’t trust testers who always say yes, because eventually a bug gets through, a deadline is missed, or a commitment is broken. Testing is not quality assurance. I trust the tester who expresses doubt. Doubt builds trust.
In my talk, I’ll explore how safety language, specificity, and nuance should color everything about the way we work. Testing software means engaging with uncertainty, and our communication should reflect that. Saying “I don’t know” can spark the beginning of a dialogue. Being able to admit the possibility of an unexplored path, a unknown interaction, or a fallible memory makes the difference between a team that moves forward and a team that stagnates by digging up evidence of mistaken certainty. We’ll get thinking about why it’s most important to say “I don’t know” in an interview and how admitting doubt can help a tester find an environment where they can thrive.
Takeaways: I want to give testers the power to be vulnerable at work. Rather than staying silent, testers can start admitting what they don’t know to get better explanations for themselves. If they’re already a pro at this themselves, they can encourage their teammates to voice their questions and foster an environment where this is encouraged. Testers will be able to:
- Approach situations with humility and a desire to learn.
- Refrain from mocking or judging those who know less than you.
- Consider the privileges that allow you to gain knowledge others haven’t.
What You'll Learn
Elizabeth is Quality Lead at Mendix in Rotterdam. She reviews and contributes code to a Python test automation repository for 15+ teams building Mendix apps across three units. She builds exploratory testing skills by asking pointed questions throughout the unit, facilitating workshops, and coordinating an ensemble (mob) testing practice. She injects what she learns from conferences, books, and meetups into her daily work, and spreads her knowledge through the company-wide Agile guild she facilitates. She's presented at conferences throughout North America and Europe, and co-organizes the Friends of Good Software conference (FroGS conf http://frogsconf.nl/). She coaches people to success when possible, but isn't afraid to direct when necessary. She's the go-to person for things like supporting new presenters, reviewing documentation, navigating tricky organizational questions, and thinking critically about what we're building. Her goal is to guide enough testers, leaders, etc. to make herself redundant so she can take on new and bigger challenges. You can find Elizabeth's big thoughts on her blog (https://elizabethzagroba.com/) and little thoughts on Twitter @ezagroba.