Lessons learnt from a phone call

Can you refer some of your friends for technical training at my college? – sis (sister) asked,
Me: What is it about, why do you need them?
Sis: for assisting my students clear campus interviews and get placed
Me: What language/technology/domain trainers are you looking for?
Sis: C, C++, JAVA.
Well, the answer for this question could have been a “Yes” or a “No”. Let’s analyze both the scenarios….

Scenario “No”

I say “No” to my sis, wish her good night, ask wife/mom to serve dinner, and sleep well on sleep well mattress.

Scenario “Yes”

- Commit to her, that I would refer some of my friends.
- Call a friend who is good at any of them(C/C++/JAVA), or in some cases ‘master of all’, ask him/her to make some money, share my sis number.
- Sis shall get a call from my referrals, invites them to her college, they teach C/C++/JAVA for may be a day. They go back with money, sis goes back happily that she conducted training, students go back with WHAT??? ( Neither I Know)

Let’s analyze the same scenario handled in a different way.

Well, I love questioning and as a tester one of most important skills required (I am still practicing, I am no expert either, but determined to be). I went on and on asking for questions.

- Students from which semester would attend the seminar/workshop? (since sis was not sure what to call it)
(the reason behind the question)Curious to know whether it’s 1st sem or like all other colleges is it 6th or 7th sem
- How long will this seminar/workshop conducted? Will it be on a Sunday??
The longer it is the boring I felt….Sunday…a definite NO NO
- What do you want the technical trainers to teach?
Straightforward what do you want them to teach….nobody knows what the interviewer would ask …right???
- What do they have to prepare before addressing your students?
Dependent on the previous question….calculating how much time it is required for the guy/gal to prepare to address the class
- How are you planning to pay them? Is it hourly?
Most important question…don’t you guys feel so...
- If I am referring my friends from the industry, should they have prior experience in teaching?
A probable question from my friends or co-workers, whom I would have referred…. Good to anticipate their questions in advance right??
- How will you measure whether the training was successful?
How is my sis planning to convince her management that the exercise was successful
- How many of your students do you think will attend? Or will it be compulsory like how we were made to attend during our school/college?
This was a must-know information…the gut feeling my sis has about the program…also if it’s made compulsory remember the days we used to attend those long lectures.

And then the most important question of them all

– What are your expectations from this workshop/seminar?
This was directed at my sis alone…not her management….I wanted to know what is her expectations

Now, my sis could answer some of the questions, some were unanswered (not thought of it yet), and some was partially answered (which also included the most important question “expectations”).

I was able to frame more questions, since I got most of the answers, and could analyze where my sis stands….so the next list…

- Where would you find resources to train your students for the campus recruitment?
Since, I am from the industry and I knew this was a tough task, and wanted my sis to feel “whether she is defining the right procedure”
- If you are looking for one who is very good technically/has great communication skills/ adapts quickly/ thinks on the run. Aren’t they the cream every industry/institution wants?
This was related to my previous question, but here I emphasized that it is tough to find them and wanted to know whether she still wanted to follow the same procedure….
- Will students be really interested to attend workshop/seminar on a Sunday, which is their only holiday since Saturday is no longer a holiday? Will they not have tuitions/friends/girl friends to attend?
Again, questioning the entire process and her confidence level
- Why are you starting the training so late (6th sem), by 6th sem they would had developed a learning pattern of their own?
Again, questioning the entire process and her confidence level
- What are the value-add for your students, would they add it in their resume, that they attended the training and shall attract more questions on the subject during the interview?
Again, questioning the entire process and her confidence level, and this time I was hoping her to drop the current process she has in mind and work on a different, a better procedure.

If I analyze the phone conversation again, I could see that my sis (client) knows her requirement (students to clear campus). But she is not sure of the approach required to meet the requirement.

Let’s dig a little deeper. Initially she was looking for “technical trainers” for the procedure she had in mind(training students), but then she was questioned on the kind of trainers required, the procedure, returns from the procedure or workflow, student’s interest and so on.

Now let’s relate it to our industry. Client is definite on the requirement, but not on the approach. So a requirement spec is drafted, which lists all the requirements, one of these I would relate it as my sis asking for technical trainers.

While testing if we as testers overlook it or consider requirement spec as a rule book we need to act by, I would have had ended referring some of my friend’s.

Some of us (testers) do follow this wonderful pattern of questioning but do not appreciate ourselves for it. And if there are testers who do not follow it and feel questioning could raise few eyebrows “GOD HELP YOU ALL”

For those who by now feel questioning is an essential skill for a tester, please refer to another excellent blog on questioning by
Pradeep Soundararajan.

Currently I and my sis are brainstorming on what could be the best approach for the requirement she have. I have also roped in my father (principal) for the brainstorming exercise….I shall post all the outcome of the discussion later.

Please feel free to disagree with me, challenge me, discuss with me, by posting your comments. Also, feel free to reach me at sharu.b@gmail.com . I stay in Bangalore and my phone number is 9845400742

Disclaimer: All the blogs shared by me are my ideas, my thought, my understanding of the subject and does not represent any of my employer’s ideas, thought, plans or strategies.


achyutha said...

Hi Sharath,
A very good comparison of "Tester's questioning skills" with your sister's idea of "Training the students".
Yes, the real calibre of a Tester lies in his questioning capabalities thru which he can get multiple approaches on testing a System for its requirements

manjunath said...

Hi Sharath,

Good one, article gives the kick on How to think in differnt way /angle, Every tester should read this once to know how to think in different angle.

nice one, Please post more & more article..

Sharath Byregowda said...

Thanks achyutha and manjunath

Yes, the real calibre of a Tester lies in his questioning capabalities thru which he can get multiple approaches on testing a System for its requirements

thats true, but dont you feel a tester should also know what questions to ask...or it could be very annoying :-)

stay tuned for more articles

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