The Art of Doubting

As a software tester, it is my job to question things. Questioning involves doubt, but is that doubt of a certain kind? Perhaps; let’s call it ‘good doubt’.

Monday May 15th 2017, I facilitated a philosophical, protreptic salon in Copenhagen about the art of doubting. The protreptic is a dialogue or conversation which has the objective of making us aware and connecting us to personal and shared values.

Doubt is interesting for many reasons. Self-doubt is probably something we all have and can relate to. But there seems to be value in a different kind of doubt than that with which we doubt ourselves.

Doubt is related to certainty. Confidence can be calculated statistically, and that seems to be the opposite of doubt.

Science almost depends on doubt: Even the firmest scientific knowledge is rooted in someone formulating a hypothesis and proving it by doubting it and attempting to prove it wrong.

Even religion, faith, seems to be related to doubt.

It is always interesting to examine the origins of a worud. The Danish and German words “tvivl” and “Zweifel” have the same meaning as the English doubt and all relate to the duo; two; zwei; to.

That appears to indicate that when we doubt we can be in “two minds”, so to speak.

So is doubt a special type of reflection, “System-2”, or slow thinking?

The protreptic is always about the general in terms of the personal. We examine our relations to doubt.

“What is it that our doubts wants or desires for us?” was one of my protreptic questions during the salon.

We circled a lot around that particular question. Finding an answer was difficult and we came back to self-doubt, which can be difficult to live with. Self-doubt can even harm our images, both the external ones and those that are internal to ourselves.

Leaders are usually expected not to have self-doubt: A prime minister risk loosing the next election if he doubts his own decisions and qualities. A CEO that doubts her own actions will drive the share value of the company down.

But there is a good doubt, and good doubt seems to be of a helpful nature.

Good leadership requires having the courage to doubt. It seems to help us act wisely and based on our experiences.

During the salon, my personal image of doubt changed. In the beginning I thought of doubt as a kind of cognitive function, perhaps a process I had to go through. Doubting could even be an event.

But at the end of the salon, my image of doubt changed into that a good friend walking with me through my life. Continuously present, if I want him.

With that image we found an answer to the question: Doubt is my friend. A friend who wants my actions to be driven not only by my instincts or simple gut feelings. A friends that help me shape my actions by my values.

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Reklamer

Chaos to Kairos – NYC May 1st session on playful testing skills with music and philosophy

Jessica Ingrassellino and I will perform a workshop at the NYC Testers Meetup on Monday May 1st during the Test Leadership Congress. Join the meetup to participate.

The session will be based on the workshop we did at CounterPlay, an international play festival which took place in March in Aarhus, Denmark. Titled “Playful Software Exploration” the topic was value driven improvisation skills in testing. Together with the participants we tested, performed music and formed a philosophical, protreptic circle

The somewhat disturbing background of the workshop is that in a performance oriented and individualized tech industry, we are expected to drive ourselves to be the best in a complex or even chaotic reality. Remaining true to our professional and personal values while staying sane and ready to act and perform every day can be very challenging.

Our CounterPlay workshop was a success. Collaboratively we gained sense of and got to the core of important values in testing. We were even interviewed for the popular show “The Harddisk” on Danish national radio.

This time we would like to playfully explore the significance of Kairos in testing.

Kairos is Greek and means the supreme moment in which the future is transformed to the past with a particularly fruitful outcome. Kairos is important in rhetorics because while there are rules of good communication, there are moments in which speaking and acting is particularly fruitful: There is a time and space for the good talk. And even the best performance will fail if kairos is not considered.

This is an aspect of all improvisation and play, and good testing is in many ways always an improvised, playful act.

We know it when we perform exploratory testing.

But even when testing is turned into a controlled and scripted process, it makes sense to perceive testing in the microscope as a playful exploration and experimentation with potential and actual outcomes – even outcomes beyond the directly observable testing results: E.g. learning points for developers and management.

At the core is that testing makes a difference for people around us, even those who are not directly involved in testing and developing.

So let’s think beyond the processes, and functional and technical perspectives on testing, and explore software testing as a playful and human event with potential to create order in due time.

No prior knowledge or talents are required to join the workshop. But bring curiosity about values in testing, and be ready to play and improvise, introspect and think and reflect abstractly.

Best,

Jess and Anders

Kunsten at tvivle: Proptreptisk samtalesalon nr. 8

Det er videnskaben, der bærer vores samfund i dag, og med den følger søgen efter forståelse. Med forståelse kan vi skabe nyt og blive rigere og sundere.

Forståelse indebærer, at vi indtager et standpunkt, altså står ét bestemt sted. Dermed stiller vi os i modsætning til andre standpunkter: Forstår vi noget, kan vi ikke indtage flere modstridende standpunkter om det, vi forstår.
Så med forståelse følger holdning.

Holdning baseret på forståelse virker vigtigere end noget andet, når vi skal tage store beslutninger. Hvordan mon statsministeren eller præsidenten tænker, når han skal sende sit land i krig: Tvivler han og ryster på hånden? Eller har han læst og forstået situationen eksakt og præcist og udmønter derefter forståelsen i handlekraft?

Visheden, der følger med forståelsen, giver sikkerhed og signalerer styrke. Dens modstykke, tvivlen, kan være tegn på uduelighed og svaghed.

Men måske rummer tvivlen alligevel noget godt?

Mange krige har i eftertidens dom vist sig meningsløse og måske mest baseret på rygter og løgne. Vi ved det egentlig godt: Tit søger folk jo ukritisk efter vished og giver måske sig selv og andre indtryk af sikkerhed og styrke men snyder i sidste ende kun sig selv og andre.

Måske findes der en værdifuld, reflekterende tvivl, en dyd, som vi som ledere og mennesker bør kende og opdyrke for at bevare og udvikle kritisk sans og en sans for de sandheder, der rummer nuancer, der ikke kan måles videnskabeligt og sikkert?

Det kræver mod at tvivle, men tvivlen må i alle tilfælde være nødvendig, for at vi personligt og organisatorisk kan mestre de irrationelle psykologiske for-forståelser og mavereaktioner, som alle mennesker trækkes med.

Ja måske er tvivlen ligefrem en forudsætning for at kunne handle empatisk og begavet i det daglige?

I denne ottende samtalesalon vil vi derfor lede efter værdier i og omkring tvivlen, ja dyrke selve kunsten at tvivle.

Tilmelding er obligatorisk – og det er afmelding i øvrigt også, hvis du bliver forhindret. Hvis vi har tomme stole, vil vi nemlig gerne kunne give dem til andre interesserede.

Vi glæder os til at se dig!

Dato: 15. maj 2017
Tidspunkt: 16.00 – 18.30
Sted: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Tilmelding til: karengjesing@privat.dk (obligatorisk af hensyn til forplejning)

Kærlige hilsner

Karen og Anders

Protreptic Salon 7: Play and Passion

We hereby invite to the 7th protreptic salon in Copenhagen, this time with Jess Ingrassellino from New York – and for the first time in English.

Join Jess, Karen, and I in a salon with the theme “Play and Passion”:

Growing up, we become serious and think that play is childish behavior to be abandoned. Later we discover that the truth about play is more nuanced.

Play represents a very human aspect of life and it seems to have power to connect us to passions and personal values even in difficult situations.

The subject we would like to explore is how we stay true to ourselves, thrive, and face challenges of our professional roles in playful ways.

We wish to uncover wisdom about how we can playfully be productive, nurture our relations, and perhaps even serve higher causes.

Be quick to apply for this unique and intimate salon with music and philosophical dialogue.

Date: April 3rd 2017
Time: 16.00 – 18.30
Where: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Apply to: karengjesing@privat.dk

Should you have registered, but be unable to participate, please let us know as the number of chairs we can fit in is limited and we’d love to share with someone else if you can’t make it.


Jessica Ingrassellino is a musician, teacher, philosopher, researcher, programmer, business owner, and software tester from New York. Prior to her life as a software tester, she was a full-time music teacher in New York City public schools. In 2015, she completed a dissertation about assessment and school music; in 2016, she wrote “Python Projects for Kids“. Currently, she test software at Salesforce.org. She also runs TeachCode.org, working within the New York metropolitan area to bring improvisatory, imaginative coding education to underserved communities.

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Invitation til protreptisk samtalesalon 6: Hvad med generøsiteten?

Billederne af den tilsyneladende generøse præsident, der ved indsættelsen selvsikkert og iscenesat giver magten tilbage til folket var et tema på de sociale medier. Han sammenlignedes med en bestemt tyran fra en Batman-film, der brugte samme ord og udtryk. Det er urkomisk og skræmmende på én gang. Tiden vil vise, hvad der sker i USA nu.

Når jeg tænker på frihed og ansvar, så kommer relationen til mine medmennesker altid og forplumrer billedet af den våde drøm om at kun at være mig selv nærmest. Drømmen bliver et mareridt. For, hvem ønsker at være i fuld kontrol over sit liv og dermed alt omkring omgivelserne? Er man så ikke helt alene om det hele, og dermed helt, helt ensom?

Jeg må derfor straks vende tilbage til tankerne om, at min frihed kun kan leve i fællesskab med mine medmennesker, og deraf opstår vist nødvendigheden af noget ”givende”, ikke kun i en større sags tjeneste, eller blot for kollektivets skyld.

Jeg kan simpelthen ikke føle mig fri uden at give.

Temaet for næste samtalesalon er generøsitet, for vi er nysgerrige på, hvad vi mon kan finde ud af ved samtalen om den. Den er så smuk og fin, men det kunne jo for eksempel også tænkes, at der ind imellem skulle sættes grænser for den? Vi ved det ikke.

Tilmelding er obligatorisk- og det er afmelding i øvrigt også, hvis du bliver forhindret. Hvis vi har tomme stole vil vi nemlig gerne kunne give dem til andre interesserede.

Vi glæder os til at se dig!

Dato: 6. marts 2017
Tidspunkt: 16.00 – 18.30
Sted: Gjesing Coaching, Prinsesse Charlottesgade 31, kld, 2200 København N
Tilmelding til: karengjesing@privat.dk (obligatorisk af hensyn til forplejning)

Kærlige hilsner

Karen og Anders