Get your testers sharing ideas

How do you get the testers on your team to work together and share ideas? Software testing expert Karen N. Johnson has a suggestion.

How can I encourage my team to brainstorm ideas for testing?
Start by creating an environment conducive for sharing. Leaving a work area or leaving the office and scheduling an offsite session sends the message that brainstorming is a valued activity. Changing environments can break patterns of thinking and change the dynamics between people.

Set the tone for brainstorming by establishing ground rules for the session. Encourage people to share and not criticize ideas. Redirect any criticizing or teasing with gentle encouragement to return to being creative.

Choose someone to facilitate and moderate the discussion. Ideally a neutral facilitator and someone who doesn't work at the same company are good choices. If you don't hire an outside facilitator, consider any political implications for the team. (If you're the test manager and you're trying to run the brainstorming session, will everyone feel comfortable?) It might be best to ask someone on your team to conduct the session if you cannot hire a facilitator.

The more often you host brainstorming sessions with your team, the more deeply the team will trust and enjoy the sessions and the faster the team will get to the state of sharing ideas.
This was first published in February 2007

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