Sunday, April 4, 2010

EWT12: Mind mapping and testing

Great minds came together on EWT12
This session of European Weekend Testing: EWT12: Mapping the maps involved using mind mapping to inform the test manager about how to reach a certain coverage for the online map functionality: Bing Maps

This seems to be a mission with too much open endings. I keep referring that one of the major goals for me to participate are knowing more passionate testers and learn during the session and also afterwards. I'm not intending to test the software and find all issues I can found. for me it is also not a game which can be won on the number of issues there are found. Or who reached the highest defect ratio within that hour.

Passionate testers this time were:
Anna Baik
Tony Bruce
Markus Gärtner
Jeroen Rosink

For this session we were working with either the tool Freemind (offline tool) or Mindmeister (online tool with the ability of using 3 maps for free)

On Wikipedia a list of mind mapping software is offered which might be worth to check

Lessons Learned
#1 Prepare practice session how to use a mind mapping tool
Even when you have heard about mind mapping and or practice it sort of, when a tool is used not to share your thoughts but also compare thoughts within a limited timeframe, it is good to spend first some time to guide the participants through the tool.

#2 Mind maps differ in usage, colours and notations
As people think differently, the chance mind maps differ is huge. I believe here we have a thin line how to use an approach like mind mapping. We can demand the participants to use certain ways of notations, this will also limit their thoughts. I suggest providing the participant several ways how mind mapping can be used and how icons and colours can be used. Let the participant decide as long as the decision can and is explained.

#3 Mind maps are not a single mean of communication
In my opinion a mind map cannot be used as a single mean of communication. You cannot use it as test basis when the creator is not providing some explanation. It is a model of the mind of the author of that moment under certain conditions. Often is written and spoken that an image tells more then words. In this case I believe the strength lies in the combination, without words the map is almost meaningless

#4 If mind maps are used in testing keep it dynamic
I think mind maps can be used in testing; perhaps as a certain touring scheme. When it is used; it also should be maintained. When it is used in a test project and a certain level of information is presented, it has to become part of the whole team and the whole team can make changes on it. It can be introduced as an extra output of a stand-up meeting?

#5 Heuristics can be used within a map
You might introduce some structure by using heuristics. I used SDFPOT to play with and continue with that route.

#6 Use multiple mind maps within the team
After I compared the different mind maps I noticed we all have different approaches and different ways of details in the map. I like ton use single words, other like to use notations like test cases and also some times routing within the mind is visible. the strength here is that different levels of detailed information is presented. I'm convinced that not restricting people using mapping in notation will strengthen others by offering ideas.

#7 Mind maps provide more information
When I compared the maps of the mind I see more information then only what is written. If you look at how it is written, in which areas more details are provided and were not, you might come up with questions about importance. or why certain decisions are made. For this mind mapping can be a great approach, not only to tell what is done, also to come up with questions why certain decisions are made.

#8 Mind is changing also the maps
I think using maps like this should not be just once. you should generate this type of maps frequently. To gain more information from the maps how you mind/thoughts are evolving versioning should be used on the maps. On frequent basis you have to schedule also meetings to explain and investigate how thoughts were changing.

My thoughts, my map
When you look at the picture, you see a result of my trials using the tool and adapting some structure in the map. You also see I tried to use some icons, what I will do and what I won't do. Also what I have done and have to do. I played with icons were I think issues are as I noticed strange behaviour. I even tried to see of adding a priority to the items is an option.

Using a tool is great as you can adapt your thoughts by re-shaping, re-placing or even removing without generating a mess. On paper you have to be very careful as mistakes cannot easily undone. You are forced to continue with mistakes. For me, there is more to explore how to use this tool.

Process of mind mapping
Here a suggestion how to use mind mapping. I'm sure there are other ways. I'm sure there are better ways. This is how I think it can also be of some usage.
1. Prepare mind mapping introduction session: exchange knowledge about mind mapping, the tool and experience
2. Assign roles, like tester, analyst, test coordinator/manager, developer, user, etc
3. Agree that no map is wrong or is right, accept there will be differences in level of details
4. When necessary agree on usage of certain icons and colours (not all)
5. Define the mission
6. Execute mission within a defined period (1 hour?)
7. Present and explain the mind maps
8. Make adaptations on you mind map based on mind changes due to new input
9. Make agreement how mind map will be used: every day during a period, or was this one time moment?
10. Maintain mind map
11. Gain information about how the "mind" was working related to mood, level of detail (perhaps the mind was up to something), time behaviour, structure,...

I think it can be used for explaining/presenting and obtain information about:
- the route for testing
- the areas for testing
- the test cases
- the coverage of execution
- which decisions are made, what to test and what not to (lesser details is less important?)
- matching each other thoughts about the test goal of that day
- the possible risks
- the black spots in testing
- ....

For those who also want to be challenged by challenging yourselves, you might take part on one of the weekend testing sessions and teach yourselves! Don't hesitate to participate!

For more information see:
Or follow them on twitter
Weekend Testing:
Europe Weekend Testing:

1 comment: