Lego of your feelings: creating a community of practice

Zachary Borrelli
By Zachary Borrelli under Agile, Engineering 30 June 2015

Exploring all the different possibilities of our area of discipline allows us to become even better at what we do and encourages us to strive to achieve our potential. This is no different within the testing team at The App Business.

As a tester and software professional, one of the most important aspects of continuous learning and development is having the space and time to collaborate, expand ideas and have great conversations within a community of practice.

We are always encouraged to challenge, think and adapt. Collaboration is essential, not just within our project teams, but also within the internal testing team as a whole. We do this by running test team meetings we call 'Testing Think Tank Sessions'. These sessions are designed for the team to share ideas, discuss problems and share blockers that could be solved by a hive mind.

Above all else, these sessions keep us together so that we can enforce the sense of community we’ve built within the team. We actively make sure these sessions aren’t like traditional meetings by making them as fun, interactive and valuable to everyone as possible.

For example, a few weeks ago, our QA manager facilitated a workshop using Lego Serious Play ® (LSP). LSP is a technique used to foster creative thinking through team building metaphors and for this particular workshop, we used it for learning and understanding our own values. We were asked a series of questions to which we had to build a model using lego and externalise our feelings and ideas through storytelling, ending with us relaying each of these back to the team.

As you can imagine, the mind can wander, but the great thing about LSP was that we were encouraged to not think about the build but to just let our hands do the building. The session was very well received with 12 or so people having a lot of fun building unique interpretations of the instruction given, for example "build a tower" or “build a creature”.

Workshops and sessions such as these are absolutely perfect for building the sense of community which I think all disciplines should strive for. It enables everyone who attends to get a feeling that they’re part of and can contribute to an essential cog that runs the machine that is the company. I really enjoyed the LSP session as it forced me to leave the confines of my everyday work and think about my values. It allowed me to show my fellow testers things they didn’t know about me through a visual medium accompanied with a personal description (story). Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone, is just what you need to get you thinking creatively. 

After all, that's what testing is all about.