Relating testing to climbing


I have always wanted to write one of those posts where you relate testing to some everyday activity or social event. So why not do this as my first testing blog post.


Recently there was one that I have quoted in conversation regarding teams of the world cup and certain testing techniques and qualities. Can anyone find the link?


So why relate testing to climbing?
Climbing involves some tools and processes to get you started but at the end of the day it is about the people, their trust and teamwork. This for me is a very high level summary of testing in the agile world.


While clambering up the 16 metres high wall, holding on for dear life (I have a fear of heights and of falling) I randomly started to think about testing.
(This may have been due to the fact that I was meant to present on Agile Testing and how manual testing has been integrated into my company the next day).



So how did my climbing experience compare to testing?


Well before we started we got an overview of what is going to happen and the safety equipment, what it is for and how it is used.
This was reminiscent of project kick offs I have been part of. What is the project, what are the risks, how are we minimising the risks?


We then had the tools explained, the harness, the rope, the knot for belaying and the other attachments.
Some of the more enthusiastic people had chalk pouches and specialised climbing shoes also.
We looked at ourselves wearing normal trainers and comfy clothes with just the basics and were told we will get quite far in our attire but would/could progress faster/further with more specialised gear and that everyone had a certain innate climbing ability and that this can be improved with proper training.


This reminded me of using the right tools for the job when testing.
Regression testing will be much faster and efficient with automated tests.
UI and usability testing more effective using manual testers as web tests could become fragile and create technical debt.


Are you working better as a team using an analog scrum board and post it notes or will you be more organised and communicative using an online defect/project management tool? Choose the right tools and processes to progress as well as you can in your team.


Then as we started climbing the instructor did the rope work for us which was called belaying. he made sure that if we fell we would not go far, and kept the rope tight as we climbed up, some better than others.


This was an interesting experience as I felt supported the whole time and when I had to give up I could communicate and either I would be guided where my next step could be or I was held and supported back down to the ground.


Communication is the key here. Yes it is just two people but by clearly communicating I could let the instructor know if I was having a rest, needed help or thought I was going to fall off.
Of course when I did fall off without knowing I would he caught me as well.
The team is there to help  with testing. It is a whole team approach, made possible with communication. Developers can help with setting up test environments and test data, guide you to finding issues (it is their code after all and they know of weaknesses) and support you if you run out of time at the end of the sprint for example.


If there are difficult sections in the climbing wall you can discuss the options on how to tackle them, same as for developing functionality or a user experience. You plan a route and where each foot and hand goes, similar to where new features and functionality may be implemented.


So in the end I enjoyed climbing. It was a bit like agile testing for me, going up to face a new challenge and abseiling back down with new knowledge and a new skill (if you can call mastering the second to easiest climbing route gaining a skill).


Do you ever compare an everyday activity or hobby to testing?

P.S.: if you fancy trying climbing and are in the Sussex area why not try this place.


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