"What do you do?"

17/08/2013 21:40

James Marcus Bach just recently challenged me by asking “What do you do?“ He recommended that I think about my answer before giving it. The question was in the context of conversation with a group of people (all context-driven testers) where I wanted to know what the group should do to reach its goals. That triggered James to solicit “some concept of what each of us CAN contribute” and ultimately ask me directly what *I* do. This is my answer.

Initially I struggled with what he actually meant, but he gave me examples by sharing what he does: “I mentor people all over the world” and “I develop new ideas and methods and tools”. Concerning my job, I am an agile coach for it-agile. That is, on an abstract level, accompanying clients on their voyage towards agility by sharing with them my experiences and lessons gained from working in other contexts or with other clients. But that is more of what I do to make a living than what I *do*. Besides, that isn’t particularly unique to the context-driven community.

I am still fairly new to the context-driven community. I am actually quite new to testing. I am not one of the people who can just step into a new community and immediately start self-certainly challenging it’s people and ideas, create new rules and share long-term experiences. Instead I first like to know the rules, the different viewpoints and ask questions in my own way until I feel I’ve gained an understanding I’m comfortable with.

I haven’t reached that point with this community quite yet. But I do know about the impact I have while questioning, discussing with, learning from and coaching others:

  1. I help people clarify and enhance their own ideas by asking them to verbalize those ideas. I’ve found that the flaws in logic that prevent me from learning and are often the same flaws in logic that cause challenges for others. Through verbalization, I feel I am frequently successful in helping others work through these challenges while also helping them to be able to convey their ideas in a way that is less abstract and more easily understandable to others.
  2. While rephrasing ideas to see if I understand correctly I frequently share a related personal experience. In this way, I feel I am successful in magnifying, intensifying, specifying or expanding their ideas – for both of our benefit. 
  3. Many of the ideas I encounter are, or at least seem to be at first, entirely new to me. When this happens, I often try to see them in contrast to one or more ideas that are related by some context factor. Sometimes I try to combine ideas in an attempt to build a mental model. I verbalize this thought process with the person or persons who shared or inspired the idea -often in line. I’ve found that this both helps me to learn faster, but it also seems to help those around me enhance their own ideas.
  4. Questioning ideas from different people I sometimes succeed in connecting these people. Often I can learn more if I connect two brains with two ideas. Sometimes the people I connect also learn more as a result of being connected. I like that.

I believe that it is my background as a physicist, and my ability to apply the scientific and critical thinking I learned there that both enables me to be effective, and gives me a unique, and reportedly valuable, perspective while I’m coaching. 

In contrast to James I don’t yet do all this on a daily basis and I don’t yet feel that I can claim to be able to coach people to the deepest understanding of context-driven testing. But do I have an understanding about how it feels to be one of “the new guys”. I often speak the same language as others who are newly confronted with this society of critical mindsets, thorough questioning and nitpicking. I feel that this combination is valuable in helping folks to get successfully integrated into the community.

So what do I do?

I proudly coach others on clarifying, enhancing, and integrating their own ideas effectively.



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