Test Retreat

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Learning Zone, Performance Zone

Time to time I discuss with people in industry about how to find a good software testers/developers. And my answer is always the same – do not look for a tester/developer, look for a person who likes to learn. If you can teach a bear to ride a bicycle, then a person, who wants to learn, have no limits.

How long do you work as a software tester/developer? How many years of software testing/development experience do you have? Looks like similar questions, but they are not. For example, you are paid as a software developer for 7 years. You can have one time 7 years of experience OR you could have 7 times 1-year experience.

Since I work as a trainer I see that being in a room and listening is not enough. Students have to apply learnings in everyday life and this is the hardest part of learning. I agree to educators who say learning means change of behaviour. Very simple example: child and candle. A child is attracted to a flame and wants to touch it. Parents can say 100 times, do not touch it! A child will hear it, but not learn and will keep trying to touch a flame. Only after touching a flame, lesson will be learned and behaviour changed. In Germany is used to say Lernen Durch Schmerzen which translated means Learning Through Pain. Pain as trigger to change a pattern of behaviour.

I really love Eduardo Briceño TED talk where he introduces us with his concept of Learning Zone and Performance Zone. Learning zone is where we build our skills, important part in this stage is to make mistakes and lern from them, and performance zone, where we apply skills we master. Since I work in IT , I had little chance for learning, my work life was pure performance zone. Companies want to hire only experienced professionals. If you are not one of them, it does not mean that you get time to learn, it means you work with others and have to deliver high quality, the only difference is your pay.

In Agile projects we talk a lot about learning… We talk about learning domain, learning about customers needs, learning about software we are building, but do we really learn? Is it place where mistakes are allowed? Where you are allowed to say: “I don’t know.” In many cases it looks to me like masked performance zone.

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