“Interactive team activities around communication and soft skills”
This was the title of the February meetup “Tabara de testare Bucuresti”. The speaker was Andrei Dobrin, a very good tester that I have the pleasure of knowing. I attended this meetup and I found it very interesting and fun so I wanted to share my experience with you.
A good tester has many qualities. Some of the important ones are visualizing, communication and experimentation.
How do these abilities relate to the topic above? Stay a while and listen 🙂
We played a game at this meetup called “Farmer’s challenge”.
About the game in a nutshell:
- The participants split into teams and each team receives a couple of cards.
- Some cards have information about a farmer while others about the task that the team must do.
- Each team must complete the tasks described on the cards. They also are not allowed to show the cards to other players and can’t write the information on anything.
At first this seemed an easy task. But I remembered that i did this type of logical exercise alone with pen and paper and it still took a while. Imagine with 4–5 people and nothing to write on!
In the first stage we each described the information on our cards. This is also where the first problems may arise. You need to communicate with people you don’t know and some may not have good communication skills.
You need to remember that communication also involves a lot of listening. *If you can’t listen the you will miss important information or ideas*.
To our luck we where all friends and knew each other so there was no issue there. If we were strangers it would have taken us a lot longer to solve the challenge and the tensions would not have been that easily solved. A few minutes later the first stage was complete. We all knew the information on the cards and we needed to start putting it together.
It was here where an important step took place. We started to come up with ideas that would make this exercise easier to solve. We suggested that each one of us would play a certain farmer. I suggested that we also sit in the specific places mentioned on the cards (north, south east west).
To remember the specific items assigned to me i started to imagine (a straw house next to a big grassland, a nice car next to it, a dog, etc ).
A wise tester once told me that if you can visualize how something works then you do not know it well enough to test it. And this helped me many times including this one.
As you can see here we started brainstorming and visualizing. Communication played an important role. Everybody needs to be heard and listened to feel like a part of the team. This prevents conflicts from appearing in the future.
Also every idea we had was tried and tested before we decided to implement it. (professional defect 🙂 )
After this stage we started putting one and two together. Which farmer has which house, what car, what animal and so on. But here things get tricky. The information we had was not as clear as we would have hoped. We did not know for sure what a certain farmers name was. Here we started to test our ideas, to experiment.
Let’s suppose my name is farmer X, then what would happen ?, if I had this car would we still be neighbors ? This is a time consuming and mentally challenging process. You need to keep track of your original ideas and also the ones that you are testing. Frustration and stress may rise here. Be careful how you manage it.
After about 30 minutes of work we thought we had the correct answers to the tasks. We where wrong! 🙂 About one at least, the other one was correct. Stress again. Where did we fail, which assumption was wrong and which one was correct. We started to retrace our steps. It is difficult to think about another solution once you already found one. People started to get quiet, ideas were starting to run out. This was our sink or swim moment. Fortunately we said: “Let’s see what we know for sure” and start from there. It did help that we had known which task we solved because it gave us another clue. And we started again with the experimenting. Another grueling 15 minutes later we managed to answer the tasks.
It is interesting how a game designed to improve team communication can also train other areas as well. Experimenting, visualization, backtracking, critical thinking and more. It was a refreshing activity where as a team we joined together and solved a difficult trial. Our abilities where put to the test and we passed! 🙂
It was a very nice meetup with tester friends where we improved and honed our abilities while having fun. Well we also got stressed and frustrated , but in a fun way.
We also got a sneak preview about the next game that could come up at the next soft skills meetup: “Re-zoom”.
When Andrei explained to us the rules we decided to run and go drinking, it was mind boggling :).
I am glad I attended and recommend to any of you interested to come. The information, the games or the people, they are all great !