I wanted to become a better tester, so I asked myself three questions:

  1. Am I prepared to be vulnerable? Yes!
  2. Am I committed to being genuinely curious? Yes!
  3. Am I willing to be empathetic? Yes!

These three skills are the core of “Humble Inquiry”, and by practising them, I have become a better tester.

“Humble Inquiry”, a technique defined by Edgar Schein, is “the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person”.

In my talk, I’ll share my story of learning this technique, teach people how to use it, and inspire people to use it themselves to become better testers.

More specifically, my talk has three components:

Being Vulnerable

I’ll talk about:

  • Why I can find it so hard to be vulnerable
  • Examples of me failing to achieve my goals because I refused to be vulnerable and ask for help
    • E.g. Refusing other people's help when testing an unfamiliar part of a product, despite not having a clue what was going on
  • How I learned to use the technique of “Here-and-now Humility” (recognising that I am dependent on somebody else at this moment to achieve my goals) to overcome the fear of being vulnerable
  • Worked examples to teach people how to use “Here-and-now Humility” to achieve their goals

Being Curious

I’ll talk about:

  • Why I can find it hard to be genuinely curious
  • Examples of poor exploratory testing I’ve done due to a lack of curiosity
    •  E.g. falling prey to confirmation bias when testing familiar areas of a product
  • How I learned to trigger curiosity by:
    • Learning to truly feel that I don’t know the answer
    • Learning to truly want to know the answer
  • Worked examples to teach people how to trigger curiosity in their exploratory testing

Being Empathetic

I’ll talk about:

  • Why I don’t always respond with empathy when confronted with problems or conflict
  •  Examples of where I’ve been a poor mentor or alienated teammates due to a lack of empathy
    • E.g. upsetting my teammates by trying to force them to use a process that they didn’t want to use
  • How I learned to use “non-violent communication” as a default response to problems
  • Worked examples to teach people how to use “non-violent communication” when dealing with problems
  • Achieve your goals by allowing yourself to be vulnerable
  • Enhance your exploratory testing by learning to cultivate curiosity
  • Build better relationships through practising non-violent communication