Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thinking: You have also different types of testers

The initiation
On the 18th of March 2010 I posted an article related to the way people think called Are you a Sequential or a Spatial tester?

Based on that article Shrini Kulkarni Thinking tester replied on that posting with some interesting thoughts. He suggest that the words are chosen incorrectly between sequential and spatial. Perhaps the sources I used are also mixing up the terms. His suggestion is to alternative words like: "Holistic vs Analytical thinking"

On Twitter
On twitter we continued the visions partly triggered by me:
@shrinik Thanks for inspiring me with your thoughts related to sequential/spatial would you start with getting definitions right or picture?
@JeroenRo To get you started: think of "simultaneous/parallel" as complementary to "sequential" as opposed to "spatial". (1/2)
@JeroenRo I wonder what would be complementary or opposite to "Spatial". I hope "analytical" is not the right one (2/2)
@shrinik I don't think analytical is complimentary/opposite to spatial.Analytical might be an opposite characteristic of spatial thinking1/2
@shrinik in different professions we use the same words with different meanings, it can be used as part of another (2/2)
@JeroenRo This whole left-right brain thinking theory (left: looks at parts, right: Looks at wholes) - is a heuristic.
@JeroenRo If spatial = holistic then 'analytic; would be a right opposite. This fits well with left brain-right brain - model (heuristic)

Further investigation on terms
Based on the "discussion" (or is this nowadays called tweetcussion?) I had the feeling that we were talking about the same, only the terms are used differently to place the meaning in a different perspective. To understand more I did a short research on analytic vs holistic thinking.

This lead me to two modes of thought by Ulric Neisser, 1963
Here is the reference made that others using the term analytical were U. Neisser is using them term sequential. Seems that more definitions are used.

Another article which was tweeted (sorry, couldn't find the person who guided me towards this article) GSU Master Teacher Program: On Learning Styles. This article exlpains shortly about Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) from the Myers-Briggs foundation

Extraversion (E) versus Introversion (I)
Sensing (S) versus Intuition (N)
Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)
Judging (J) versus Perceptive (P)

Based on these differences they classified "The 16 personality types". One important phrase Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) page is:
"All types are equal: The goal of knowing about personality type is to understand and appreciate differences between people. As all types are equal, there is no best type."

Other thoughts and resources
Another posting related to differences in thinking is written by Markus Gärtner called Turn off the beamer. He also suggested me to read the book from James Bach about the Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar. As far as I understood it supports an different approach then schools are providing now. (I still need to obtain this book real soon!)

If people are thinking differently then it has to infect the way of testing. This should result in different types of testers. The portal for testers called Software Testing Club is providing a free e-book related to Tester Types The E-Book in short different types are explained.

My intentions
With my previous posting I tried to start thinking and make others think that the our hemisphere have influence on our way of working. We should not judge immediately people on their view of testing. Some people tending to think in terms of issues/defects. Others in value to deliver. We have testers who think in test processes and testers who building their thoughts based on images of processes were testing is just a part of.

Like the Myers-Briggs foundation was claiming: there are different types of personalities and they are all equal. If different types exist and we accept that, perhaps we also should spend more time to understand our fellow testers. Try to learn from other visions which might not be yours from the start. We can learn from each other. It can result in acceptance of other ideas or providing arguments for you ideas.

Not always is: thinking in test scripts good. Not always should creating a structured test process be the goal; is Finding issues a primary goal.
I suggest:
- Try to understand your way of thinking;
- Try to learn from others by finding out how they think, see the world;
- Try to see if your ideas are accepted by others when you consider these different kind of thinking
- Learn from each other not in terms what is said, instead what is thought. (see the deeper meaning :))
- Try to look beyond the defined borders of behaviour

Back to initial posting
Referring back to my initial posting Are you a Sequential or a Spatial tester? I might have used words mixed up. After looking backwards, I used the words which are used on those sites which seems to me providing a good resource to support the idea that people think differently in combination what is thought on our schools. I believe that the change knowing testers who think more like spatial/visual/intuitive/holistic is larger then the opposite.

In my experience using familiar words also making us to place the definitions and terms in a certain perspective, we avoid thinking more in detail about them. Perhaps therefore using terms like Spatial/Visual is sometimes better.

You might check the mentioned sites again and see the strengths and differences between ways of thinking. you will notice that certain sequential strengths are good for testers and sometimes the visual strengths . This means that people are complex and testers also. We cannot capture our way of working , our profession in models like ISTQB, TMap, Model based Testing, Test Driven Development or what ever. Let us also approach those models by the personality we are. And stop claiming that this model is the best cure for everything. People are valuable and should be supported to deliver value. In my opinion this cannot be done by teaching them models and force them work accordingly. They should be supported to understand models and approaches and make them fit their way of thinking. As part of a team, testers should try to understand how models can be used by others also. To start with this, try to find out how others think without judging.

I know there is much more to say about this. The different types of thinking and personality made me spend some time to think about it. I hope you, reader, also are triggered to think a bit further and built your own thoughts.


  1. One basic point you might have gotten wrong in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator model: The four characters build preferences for the particular human. Knowing these preferences has advantages when dealing with other people around you. That said, it is always possible to work on your preference. An introverted can become much more extroverted through collaboration, presentations at conferences, user meetings. The same goes for the remaining dimensions. MBTI isn't a stamp you put upon people, but rather a model for self-awareness.

    In addition to the MBTI I recommend the study of the temperament model, that Kiersey & Bates derived from it. It separates the 16 MB types into 4 temperaments: the NF, NT, SJ and SP. "Please Understand Me!" is a great book to read on that (if you are able to read psychological books without falling asleep), or just read "Quality Software Manegement" series from Weinberg. Myers-Briggs and the temperament models are part of the third volume, if I remember correctly. Weinberg described the model very well to me, but it could be that the study of "Please Understand Me!" prepared me for that.

    Finally, I randomly see me in different types. For example I see several types that apply to me from Rob Lambert's tester types. It's always us that make the change, though there might be some left-over reptile response to each and every of our actions.

  2. Hello Markus,
    Thanks for your response. You are correct that there are other models. If we search for the model which fits the best we are spending too much time on investigation. I tried to write something down to make myself think and also others. As you prefer other models and also have a judgement about Meyers-Briggs seems that you have thoughts about it.

    Similar we might see also what is happening in testing, we are aware of several models. Only we are able to practice a few of them. This doesn’t mean we are bad at testing. It means that we still can learn. From this point of view you support to continue learning me with some directions like Kiersey & Bates. Thanks for that.

    Your response makes my posting already more valuable for me. I believe that the first step is to know yourself before you can know some about others. Never judge others. With your response you are a good example to provide guidance.

    I agree that we as tester have to adapt under several circumstances which make us different type of testers, also acting under different personalities. We have to accept that we are complex beings and therefore a simple answer is hard to find. Perhaps we should avoid searching for answers instead for the proper questions, this with respect of being complex beings.