Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Wrong Answer

In a recent webinar I did about unit testing, I was asked if MSTest is a good framework to support scrum.

Being, well, myself I started with “It’s the wrong question”. Obviously a test framework support any process or methodology. Specifically, a team implementing scrum, that doesn’t have any technical practices, can benefit from test automation.

But after thinking about it more, I realized that it was my answer that was wrong, not the question.

How would someone know how to ask the right question?

Imagine you’re starting out in unit testing, and signed up for a webinar about it, because you want to learn more. You’re also working in an organization that decided to implement scrum, because the CTO heard that it’s good to be agile. Naturally, you put 2 and 2 together, and come up with a question: Can these tools help me in my work?

We ask questions to learn, clarify, and get more details about assumptions we have in our head. Here’s a newsflash: we don’t all have the same assumptions. So when we give answers, with commentary, as I did, it may get us surprising (read: bad) results.

That doesn’t mean that our answers should just stick to the facts. Usually, people don’t just look for data. They look for advice as well, especially when aingsk an expert. The best answer we can give would be in the context of their assumptions. So we need to learn about them. The best way, is not to guess, but rather by asking.

Only then we can give the right answer.

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