A Blog from QualiTest

The Top Three Power Skills for Testers: Communication, Collaboration and Creativity

Gerie Owens discusses the top three power skills for testers: Communication, Collaboration and Creativity. These skills are critical to being successful for testers.

By Gerie Owen

Why are communication, collaboration and creativity the most important power skills for testers?  So often we hear that in today’s world of Agile and DevOps that we need to become more technical, and learn to code to make a valuable contribution.  But why are Agile and DevOps being implemented in most organizations today?  They came about because of need for speed in our competitive business climate.  Yet with a need for speed comes an even greater need for quality.  Our organization’s online reputation is at stake, and we testers are the champions of quality!

So how do we become champions of quality using these skills?  Quite simply, we lead.  We lead by communicating up, down and across our organizations.  We collaborate with multiple groups across the organization to achieve organizational goals, being visible and fostering alignment of objectives and goals.  We must be creative and innovative in finding solutions to issues and assessing the quality of our applications.  These are our power skills; let’s learn more about each.

 

Communication

Communication is hard.  What we say and how it is interpreted can have completely different meanings.  Do you remember that game where a little story is told from one person to the next in a group of people, and by the time it gets to the last person, it’s a totally different story?  Although technology has opened new communication channels, it has increased the complexity of communication.

Mobile devices have fundamentally changed the ways in which we communicate, and we lose so much because of this.  We must be visible and provide a clear, consistent message to all our stakeholders; the best way to do this is by talking directly with them.   Testers, take the lead by example.  Put away your electronic devices during meetings and take time for conversation during meetings. It is especially important to get to know your offshore team members; this facilitates collaboration.

Collaboration

Let’s talk about collaboration.  Have you ever been in a meeting where someone suggests an idea and others build on it?  That’s the power of collaboration.  How do we lead by collaborating? As testers, we must be visible to all our stakeholders; not just our own teams.  When we are visible, leading our teams, collaboration creates alignment of goals.  How often is scope creep an issue in your projects?  Often, that happens from misalignment in objectives.

We can increase our visibility and bring alignment in scope by using transparent metrics.  This is difficult, especially when data comes from many disparate tracking applications.  QualiTest has an easy-to-use dashboard that combines metrics from these applications.  You can find more about this dashboard here.

 

Creativity

When we lead through collaboration, we foster creativity and innovation.  Why is creativity and innovation so difficult?  Usually when a team meets to discuss a problem, they look at how they handled similar situations in the past.  We tend to segregate our ideas which limit our ability to think out of the box.  According to Franz Johansson, true innovation comes from the intersection or the merging of ideas from seemingly disparate fields of study. When you bring a team together, you find that almost everyone has at least one area of expertise that is totally unrelated to their work-related role.  This may be something they have studied or performed as a hobby.  These disparate fields of study increase the intersections exponentially. Assembling many seemingly unrelated ideas is the easy part; the more complicated part is finding relationships between those ideas.  We do this by lowering the associative barriers that narrow our focus.

 

Associative Barriers

What are associative barriers? Basically, they are the ways in which we limit our thought processes.  We look for relationships between different things, but we often segregate our thinking. Franz Johansson found that the more we associate similar things, the less we create.  When we associate seemingly unrelated things, we enable intersectional innovation.

Communication, collaboration and creative are the three top power skills for testers because they enable us to champion the quality process.  Learn more about these skills here: