The Tester's Mindset: I Don't Think That Means What You Think It Means

There have been many instances when I have been asked what it means to be a tester.

I have myself asked the same question to many people, at meetings, conferences and at software testing events. The answer has often been specific to activities of testers on a project, rather than what does it actually mean to be a tester.

So what does it mean to be a tester? It is all about the mindset.

There are many institutes providing training courses and certifications for testers. They may train people on how to write a bunch of test cases using tools or even teach them some automation scripts. But how can the trainer develop their mindset?

Let us look at the mindset that brings out the best in a tester!

When testers look at an application or even hear a conversation, some of the gaps become very obvious to them. It is about being observant and mindful about your surroundings.

When people talk about testing, they usually talk about the activities and the processes involved in building quality into the software. These activities include testers getting involved at an early stage of the story lifecycle, bridging the communication gaps, automation testing etc. All these are some excellent skills to have as a tester. For me all these are icing on the cake with the base of the cake being the tester’s mindset.

A tester’s mind is like that of a child. Someone who is curious and is not afraid to ask the stupidest of questions. Someone who does not take things for granted or is led by assumptions, but questions the obvious. Questions that may sometimes lead to more questions. For example, when a child asks his mother “why is the sky blue?” Most of us who look at the sky every day may not have ever thought about it or even know the answer to it.

Most of us are biased in our thoughts based on our previous experiences in life. Whereas a child’s mind is not yet saturated by thoughts. The child with all the innocence, has an open mind, a free mind that is not polluted by the past. And hence can wander into the realm of inquisitiveness.

It is this mindset that helps testers to ask questions, answers of which brings out a world-class product.

The tester’s “What about …” and “what if …” questions trigger the development team to think about a volley of things that they haven’t already thought about. Hence a Tester’s mindset to think outside the box helps the Product team to think about a situation from multiple dimensions.

Thinking within the box is also equally important. Testers consider whether boundary value conditions of a feature are met or think about the various permutations and combinations of a piece of logic. Different people have different ways to achieve this; use of mindmaps, flowcharts, CSV, sequence diagrams or just drawing up their thoughts on paper.

Consider swimmers who deep dive into the waters to go ahead quickly but intermittently surface up to take a breath and make sure they are going in the right direction.

Similarly, when looking at a situation, a tester’s mind constantly shifts between the macro and micro levels. It is this mindset that gives a tester the ability to find gaps, prevent defects and highlight risks. For example, I might be looking at the font size of text or pixel differences in an image and at the same time I might have to zoom out to understand the system architecture or business objectives.

Generally, when people are focused on the given task, they miss out on other moving parts of the situation. When development team members are so focused on developing a particular feature, they sometimes lose focus on the bigger picture. This is where a tester comes in with the ability to simultaneously look at the project both holistically and intrinsically.

Tester’s and Developer’s carry different mindsets, they often work with different perspectives, priorities and motivation parting their point of views — **I don’t think that means what you think it means.**

Is Quality conversation possible between a Developer and a Tester ...

I would like to conclude by saying that at the crux, Testers must always possess the mindset to critically think and analyze. Thinking is driven by the questions rather than by answers.

So Next time when you test any application, Just think - Do you have a tester’s mindset?

Published 3 Jul 2020

Written by Arpita Garg

Testing Junkie with nature to pick up or spot things, whether in the software industry or outside, loves gardening, enjoys long walks, foodie and people say an awesome cook!

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