UKTMF – Communication Games


Last month, I was at the UK Test Management Summit. One of the talks there was by Graham Thomas who showed us some games to help us think about how we talk to each other.

One of these was a form of Taboo, where we tried to explain well known ideas without using a group of bad words. The second of these was to write down what some of those well known ideas mean in (Up Goer Five).
This really made clear to me how much we use shared knowing of words.
The first game showed us that it was very hard for us to explain the very well known ideas without using the small set of bad words – and these were ideas that we all thought we knew very well (like <>). The words form a handle for the picture of the idea in our heads and in always using the word when talking to people, the picture inside our heads becomes less clear – so when we need to share the picture using other words, we find it very hard.
Even more interesting, when we came to break into groups for the second game – writing down the ideas in Up Goer Five – the different groups came up with pictures that were different in important ways. The same words meant very different things:
With Exploratory Testing, some people said the key part was not having to have a plan. For some people, the key part was being free to go where you want and not have to stay long in areas with no problems. For some, being able to use what you learn as you go. It was not until being made to write down our thoughts in Up Goer Five that we were able to see the different ideas.
I am planning to try this game with others in my place of work – to see what pictures we have in our heads for the different words we all use! I think that if you try it you will surprise (and maybe scare) yourself at the number of changes there are between what people who work together think is the same thing!
Foot note: This piece – except for the ties to other places on line – has been written in Up Goer Five, so using only the top ten-hundred most used words.

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