Power of Models - Dan Ashby & Richard Bradshaw

Power of Models - Dan Ashby & Richard Bradshaw


If you’re testing, you’re modelling. Models are everywhere, we use them all the time while testing. The majority of the time you may not be aware you are using a model, but you are, trust us. Your system knowledge, understanding of your development life cycle, visualising new feature requests all use models. However, the real power of models comes to fruition when you attempt to share your mental models with others, specifically when you try to codify them or visualise them.

Attempting to codify a mental model is a journey of discovery, a cycle of questioning yourself until you think you’ve translated all those neurons and their connections to your chosen medium. It’s usually a very fruitful journey for you and more importantly the people you’re trying to share your ideas with. Depending on the complexity of the topic, it could be a process that lasts anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours, potentially longer but we try to avoid that, which we’ll cover in the talk. Once done though, you'll have a powerful tool at your disposal.

This is a journey Richard and Dan have taken on many occasions, producing numerous models that have got two people talking, a whole team, and even whole communities. We have our preferred mediums, Dan favours pen and paper, or his trusted Windows Surface, whereas Richard is drawn to whiteboards. The medium aside, we want to share with you some of our models, specifically focusing on the journeys and the outcomes.

For each example, we’ll explore why we created them, the creation process, how we used them and invite you to evolve them. All these examples will be woven in between sage advice about modelling. We’ll discuss the benefits such as having people on the same page, by discussing the same visual model, alongside some drawbacks such as trying to achieve the perfect model, spoiler alert, no model is perfect!


  • How a simple crude model can bring multiple ideas and conversations into a single stream
  • How a simple model can reduce the perceived complexity of a problem and accelerate progress
  • How a simple model can lead to wonderful conversations
  • Real experience reports of using models that they can harness to create their own when back in the office
  • An appreciation of Dan’s drawing skills