Testing Retreat – Thinking as a Tool

Written by , in category Less is More

20 October 2012

My first Testing Retreat with Co-Learning.  Since I follow most of the Co-Learning retreats and also facilitate one I was quite curious. 


It appears our hosts Chandra and Elena did their homework well. Jurgen was co-facilitator. They prepared a game of throwing dice.  You might be wondering right now, just like I did, how throwing dice can bring knowledge transfer about testing… 

The rather large group of participants was divided in competing teams of about 4 people each. The purpose of the game was to discover the correlation/algorithm between the thrown dice combination and the number it resulted in. 

Each throw the correlated result was provided by the observing facilitator who knew the algorithm. The challenge for each team was to find the correlation. By choosing the secret correlation type each iteration, participants found instinctively their way through the needed way of thinking to discover the algorithm.  In this way the participants were gently guided through abductiveinductivedeductive and lateral thinking.  After each iteration our hosts did a debriefing to point out strengths, pitfalls and potential cognitive biases that occurred during the game and therefore can occur on the testing work floor. Each iteration unveiled another way of thinking. 


A joyful way of learning! Most probably the learnings we got from this retreat will stick for most of the participants. We all know why children possess the ability to absorb so much learning:  they do it while playing.  Each iteration team members were mingled.  As a facilitator it was pleasant to see how high energy can rise when a small group of people works around the same target, with simple constraints. A level of collaboration which most of our managers would raise eyebrows for. Also stunning to find out was the reason of variation in resolution speed of the teams. Only at the end of the day I noticed the direct proportion between resolution speed and team communication density. Some teams wrote down a lot, others less. Some teams the bare minimum. The higher the willingness to listen, the more members thought “together” and triggered each other in attempting enlightening dice combinations that uncovered the algorithm. According to a dry run of this game done by one individual it appears to take even longer! 

Again, it confirms collaboration is an underestimated source of strength in our today corporate world.

Pictures of this event are found on the open Facebook page of Co-Learning. Other retreats are found on the Co-Learning agenda page. 

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