Communicating Testing using Visuals

Stumbled across this excellent little interview with Dave Gray from Communication Nation talking about communicating ideas using Visuals. Dave talks about organisations having a cool head, a warm heart and a firm hand.


Which roughly translates as Senior Management (the head) communicating using complicated diagrams, org charts and bar charts (abstracts). Supervisors and leads (the heart) communicating using more metaphoric, understandable visuals that motivate and inspire and the workers (firm hands) themselves communicating using clear outlines and achieveable steps (concrete actions).


So what has this got to do with testing? Well, not only is it a fascinating introduction to using Visual to communicate, create and think but it also goes someway to explaining our desire for metrics and how they are communicated. The more remote we are from the shop floor, the more often we prefer graphs and bar charts. That’s a sweeping statement but it does go some way to explaining why certain people work with (and expect) certain reports and communications.


A more pertinent point Dave makes though is that we are cultured (educated??) out of using simple drawings to communicate ideas. Our society expects slick, glossy, high flying diagram and visuals. We become less confident using fun, interesting and down to earth visuals to explain things.


At work I use drawings a lot to record user scenarios and complex problems. There’s lots of talk about using mind maps to explore ideas and heat maps to point out areas of high bug counts for example. And of course, the work we do at The Software Testing Club has never let go of the idea that fun, interesting and down to earth images in an interesting layout are a great way of communicating


The video is incredibly insightful:


6 thoughts on “Communicating Testing using Visuals

  1. … Our approach to planning and organization change is a unique combination of expert facilitation and panoramic visualization. We use Graphic Guides® templates and other highly customizable tools and processes to generate dialogue, create alignment, articulate a vision, and catalyze action. Using our skills, creativity, and high-impact graphic tools, we help our clients see the big picture and move toward their desired future.

  2. Hi Griffin,That sounds fascinating. Any more information on what this is all looks like and how it sits together for a project team?Thanks for commentingRob..

  3. Great video and approach, I’m always drawing and making pictures but not in a structured approach or with the goal in mind he mentioned in the video..

  4. Eh? What happened? That isn’t what I posted! I wonder how on earth I got that result? It looks a bit ill mannered.I pasted in that quote from your article, then commented on it, but only the quote survived when i hit the comment button. It should have read.”What’s that got to do with testing?” Quite a lot. Apart from the valid points you make, Rob, if testers are to do the best job we can, we have to understand why the organisation needs a new application, and not just what it is going to do, or how it is going to be used. We can muddle along doing a good enough job focussing only on the “what” but we need to understand all three to be as useful as we can be.I wonder how many corporate strategic briefings I’ve sat through and it would have made no difference whatsoever if I’d just had a snooze or done a crossword. Communications up and down the corporate chain are poorly done on the whole. Too often the stuff that comes down the line is brainless exhortations, or ill-conceived waffle, or in inappropriate detail. It’s seldom relevant and even more rarely has it ever inspired me.Anyway, thanks for the interesting piece and video. I don’t suppose I’ll ever know exactly what went wrong. 🙁

  5. Hi Andreas,I think drawing is a great way to jot ideas down and to work through problems. I also believe, to some people, that drawing is very therapuetic too 🙂 I know I like doodling just to chill out a little.Thanks for commentingRob..

  6. Hi James,Thanks for the comment. I know what you mean, some meetings have no agenda and the communication is awful. The problem is nothing good comes of these meetings yet more ambiguity and awful communication.I agree we need to know all three levels to be functioning effectively which brings to light whether this is anything a test issue or simply a management problem.Thanks for the always insighful comments.CheersRob..

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