Well, how should we start with this one… You are not a ZOMBIE! Some time ago as this blog came into the light, we began speaking about creativity in testing by writing and referring to a technique developed by Doctor Edward de Bono named after the Six Thinking Hats, now we want to further develop that topic, not only because it is quite vast, but also because it should be a part of every testers’ skill-set.

Creativity

Now, at first we began with a statement, let me repeat it… “You are NOT a ZOMBIE!”. For the sake of understanding such a complicated concept, let’s continue with the following phrase:

“You cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction.” Edward de bono

So basically, what we are going to start seeing today as a first part in a series of posts, are techniques for fostering creativity in our daily life which will ultimately transcend as good practices onto our careers.

The statement we made addresses the importance and significance of putting thought, into a very compelling, challenging and cognitively complex activity as software testing.

More often than not, we are faced with problems which need our creative thinking, however, at times for whatever reason we get stuck in a seemingly endless loop of thought where we start questioning our creative capacity, maybe blaming it on ourselves for not having slept enough or perhaps too much, despite of what the reasons may be, we feel like we are unable to work a solution out.

Fortunately, that is NOT true. So if you read this far, let’s do a little warm-up exercise to get our braaaaainsssss moving :)

Let’s add the following set of numbers just using our heads: 399, 396, 397, 393. Ready? Set… add!!!

Did you get the result from that addition? You did?! Great! We can move on then.

If the operation was done in the conventional way then it may have been a demanding mental piece of work, however, what would you say if I told you it can be calculated in a matter of a very few seconds? No? You say that you wouldn’t it and I would probably be bluffing? Hm… well, let’s see here, if you noticed that the numbers can be rewritten, then you noticed that it is the same as 400 – 1, 400 – 4, 400 – 3, and, 400 – 7 then the total is much simpler because it is 1600 – 15 = 1585. Notice that what we just did was restating the problem in a different way that is much easier to solve.

So, what we learn here is that we can come to a creative solution for a problem, by driving ourselves into seeing it form a different perspective, for example, trying one of the following views:

  • A child’s view;
  • A philosopher’s view;
  • The customer’s view;
  • The product’s itself view;
  • Sherlock Holmes’ view.

Tips for adopting a different point of view

  • Put yourself in the place of a customer, or the product itself;
  • Describe the problem once, listen to yourself, then reframe it and describe it again but using different words;
  • Make a doodle that represents the problem at hand, sketch it so that it is visually represented;
  • Start out with a random word and link it to the challenge at hand to make an association.
  • Use the Six Thinking Hats technique developed by Edward de Bono :)

In the next posts we will start talking about specific techniques, which, through practice, make our lives richer with more creative energy . What are your thoughts? How do you work on solving a problem?