17 Sep

Free-Form Interactive Collaboration Apparatus for Mind Transfer and Enhancement - by Shmuel Gershon

17 September 2010 by Shmuel Gershon

What's the most useful tool in your day-to-day testing?
Quality Center? Visual Studio? TestExplorer? RapidReporter? Your keyboard?

My most useful tool is the whiteboard.
That's, of course, a big lie. Whiteboards take third place.
The first single most useful and underrated tool we use when testing is our brain. The second one are our peers and friends. Whiteboards are only third.

How to make most of these tools? How to maximize the power of our brain and our peers?

Here's a suggestion. The mind thinks in free-form, so you need a non-linear no-mechanics medium to capture its thinking and make sense of it.
For mind boost, use a whiteboard: When we translate what we think into words (names), doodles (entities), arrows and lines (relationships), colors (scopes), and spacing (models); we notice what we think, and we give a good opportunity to our mind to spot missing links and or enhance the ideas. It's also a good way to avoid forgetting.

The board is even more helpful when sharing with others: There's no mind transfer protocol yet, and each one has its own weird way of thinking and modeling... A very reliable way of conveying what one thinks is by collaborating and letting the other participate in the design:

You put your model and sketches into -paper- board, and let a friend put his own doodles, arrows and questions marks. Both of you have used words, visuals, sounds, gestures and facial expressions to make a complete picture of your thoughts, so now the abstraction in the plank is a common one to the two or to the team (if you've let a large group participate). That may be as close to a mind transfer protocol as we can get today.

Be sure to have a whiteboard close to you. I had one on the wall of every single place in my workplace, and asked for one where there was none. I have one at home (small 40x50cm ones can be found cheap at discount stores).
Dry-erase boards are practical: You have plenty of colors without having to click in tiny icons, they don't need electrical power, usage scales from one to many users in a snap, screen content is persistent, and it is great fun at the same time.

Your mind is too big for being enclosed into Outlook or PowerPoint.
Give your thoughts some freedom - write them on the wall.

This is how my friends see me, sometimes... :)


5 comment(s) for “Free-Form Interactive Collaboration Apparatus for Mind Transfer and Enhancement - by Shmuel Gershon”

  1. Gravatar of Sherlin
    Sherlin Says:
    Hey shmuel , enjoyed this post of yours and the dilbert pic :) Also putting our thoughts on paper , white board or any other medium gives a better structure to our thought process .
  2. Gravatar of Shmuel Gershon
    Shmuel Gershon Says:
    Sherlin, thanks for commenting!

    You are right in your observation. Any time we try to translate a thought into a form ("paper, whiteboard or any other medium" like you said), it takes a different angle, and that helps us understand it better.
  3. Gravatar of Moshe
    Moshe Says:
    I like the way you think, sometimes we just need to go back to basic and to keep it simple.
    on my lates lacture I dropped my PPT (actually I kept them as backup) and started to use more the whiteboard.
    I found that pepole were much more participating, I dont know why maybe it has the spirit of old school :-)

    Thanks for your tip.

  4. Gravatar of Shmuel Gershon
    Shmuel Gershon Says:
    @ Moshe, thanks for your comment.
    Yes, good point. Whiteboards vs Slides. Whiteboards invite participation, while slides invite snoozing...
  5. Gravatar of Chacidy
    Chacidy Says:
    Got it! Thanks a lot again for heplnig me out!

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