I walk up to a team of newbie testers who thought they had been trained in testing. I point at an app on a phone, ask them to test, and get me a report. They spent a couple of days testing and I get a report. They come to me to get my feedback on the report. I don’t look at the report and delete it. I tell them, they haven’t tested the app so I won’t look at the report and they are shocked.
And they ask me why do I think so? I tell them they didn’t ask me any questions when I asked them to test the app. They are frustrated that they put in so much effort and I deleted it without even appreciating them. I pose myself to be busy. They start walking out of my office thinking I am stupid. I let them do it. I am the super boss, how can they ever question me?
I go to them the next day, point at the same app, ask them to test, and get me a report. Their first reaction, “Oh no, not again” and then they ask me questions. The first question pops up, “Why do you want us to test this app?”. I smile and then say because I have a customer who is interested in getting a report of the app performance. And then another question pops up, “So they don’t want Functional Testing?” and I reply, with a smile, a beautiful one this time, “No, they are getting Functional Testing done internally and they want us to do Performance Profiling of their Android and iOS apps”. Someone is not looking at me, while everyone else in the team is asking me questions. I wonder what that person is doing. This person is on the Play Store and App Store – looking at reviews for this app – what users are talking about app performance. This tester turns the head and announces to the team, “Look they have really poor reviews because of their app performance”. I tell them they are good for a start and leave.
A day passes by, I get a report. They put a meeting request on my calendar. I accept and invite them over to the meeting to review the app test report. They all look happy. I congratulate them for testing the app. I do something that shocks them again. I delete the report.
This time they don’t think I am stupid. This time their faces tell me they are like, “Now what?”. They ask me, “What questions did we fail to ask?” and I undo the delete of the report. I announce – Congratulations you unlocked the Gold Ribbon called “Meta Questions” (Farmville Parlance).
I open the first report I had deleted. I try to do a diff between the reports that they sent before they asked me questions to after they asked me questions. There is a world of difference. The difference is like shooting at the sky to shooting at the sea. The first report was the Functional Testing Report. The second one, in contrast, was specific to the context.
I noticed that the second report was structured very differently. Pointing at user reviews and evidence as to why they might have faced the performance issues they faced. I show them the difference and they get it. Totally. They are christened Moolyans. They know the importance of asking the right questions, upfront.
I then tell them to come up with a cheat sheet of their own. A cheat sheet of questions that matter to be asked upfront. They do it. They do a mind map of the cheat sheet. They are thrilled. They see this is a different world. For the first time, in their life as a tester, a new hormone begins to flow. They call it passion, I call it their first addictive drug for learning.2