Thursday, May 6, 2010

A recipe for success? Are the requirements clear?

Images above words
How often did you not heard that images tell more then words. Of course we all believe that; as our project manager of also you wants fancy colour charts and dynamic results, deliver real time.
A while ago I planned to make dinner. It is one of the recipes I got from a fellow student, we even named the recipe "Drietdrap" (don't ask me for the explanation) At that time I cooked it for some ladies and they were sold. Although it doesn't look good. I will be honest, it looks awful when you see it the first time, it taste even better. Perhaps that is the deception, it taste better then it looks so therefore it is good.

I have cooked this meal more then often for friends and family, even my children like this meal. Every time I was asked to write down the recipe so they were able to reproduce. When starting this time I noticed that I wrote the recipe already multiple times and depending on the time it was more or less detailed. This made me think about the job I love: testing. Do you taste the similarity already?

Here my story for success. Enjoy your dinner!

Would this be enough information to make create the meal and also test the meal?

Words above images
Another approach to tell the same story with words.

Ingredients for 4 persons (looks like requirements?)
- 500 gram minced meat
- 250 gram mushrooms
- 1 or 2 unions
- 2 pieces of garlic
- spinach
- crème fraiche
- Boursin
- pepper
- salt
- pasta tri-colore

Bake the meat, add pepper and salt on taste. Boil the water, chop the union, mushrooms and garlic. Add them to the meat. Heat up the spinach and add the pasta to the water when it is boiling. When it is all done remove the water from the pasta. Add the crème fraiche to the spinach. Add the Boursin to the pasta. And mix all together. now you have a lovely meal.

Are you familiar to the recipe? Do you know when you are done?

Mind mapping dinner
Like every meal I cook, I do it merely using my mind and my sense for taste instead of the actual recipe. To structure the cooking process you can you use some kind of a mind map. perhaps the one below helps you out?

Do you also see and feel it? Do you feel comfortable now there is a bit of structure? is this best of both worlds? An image and some words?

The story so far

Like always, the result you have experienced before never succeed the success you gained now. There are several ways to communicate and there always will be information missing. As tester you have learned never make assumptions. And you now the results only at the end, is it? Sometimes there is a combination between documentation, written words and models. The image below is not a correct way to explain. For me at this moment, it is a story I could have told while cooking.


I provided you a few examples how you could explain cooking this meal. There seems not much a difference between cooking and testing. You have different roads to approach cooking. You have different ways to tell. If you like to cook for profession or a person who likes to cook for fun or a cook who does it because someone has to do it. It is the result which counts. We have to eat for living. Sometimes the looks and the taste don’t care. It is the value of it, is it an in between snack or dinner to survive?

In testing you have these kind of testers also. You have persons who live by the book, you have testers who act on vision and experience. You have those who are creative and willing to try and accepting to fail. As long as they learn from failure and there is time for failure.

in the examples above you will see that information can be brought in different ways. People who are familiar with the recipe or keen on learning perhaps need less detailed information than others. For others detailed information is mandatory. It is also not only the recipes which are counting, also other information related to expectations. Like I started I once start cooking this very successfully, which might be important information as it doesn't add value in preparing the meal, it colours the expectations.

The same is about how old and trustworthy the expectations are. How about I tell you that that nice achievement is about 20 years ago. I cooked over the years more often and was also successful as friends and family were satisfied. Perhaps there is some kind of additional context, designed by memories.


There is not one recipe for success, There are more ways to serve. I hope you learned that we should NOT ask for detailed documentation, we should ask for information needed to add value. In this case the value was when dinner was served and eaten. Less important was the order things happened.

No comments:

Post a Comment