Ask questions for understanding!

January 25, 2021     Janet Gregory, Lisa Crispin
holistic testing, quality     Testing

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Welcome to our first Agile Testing Fellowship blog post! Here we will share ideas from us (Janet and Lisa), instructors as well as featured guests. We hope to have a wide variety of topics that will interest you. We decided to kick of this site with a post about asking questions – a skill we can all keep improving.

Ask questions for understanding!

Many teams kick off new projects or new feature sets as they kick off a new year. It’s often a time for re-configuring organizations and trying new experiments. These new beginnings are a great opportunity to help your team build shared understanding about the quality you want to deliver to your stakeholders.

Picture yourself in a planning meeting for a new epic or feature set. After your product owner or manager describes the new capabilities your team will need to deliver, ask yourself if you understand the business goal this new project will attain. If it’s not clear, ask the question yourself: “What is the goal of this new capability? Is it solving a problem for our business, for our customers?” Another great question to ask is “How will we know if this new feature is successful? What can we measure? How soon after releasing can we evaluate whether it’s meeting our goal?”  The resulting discussion will help your team focus and plan.


                                dog raising its hand

Asking questions is a big part of testing. When you have questions, it’s likely that other people in the room have the same questions, but for some reason they’re reluctant to ask. If someone uses a term you don’t know, it’s likely others also don’t know it so ask. Don’t be afraid. For example, Lisa’s teammates were reporting experiments with different languages for a new front end and kept referring to static and dynamic typing. She asked for clarification, and probably wasn’t the only person in the room glad to get it.

Never be afraid to ask questions. Your team members will most likely be happy to explain. You may even trigger a conversation that reveals hidden assumptions and helps the team get on the right track.