Disorganized Thinking

That Thing in Our Heads

I’m finding that more often, when I get ready to write a post, it ends up being about brain stuff.

I think brains are cool. Each of us has a supercomputer we carry around in our heads all the time.

Yes, actual supercomputers can out-compute us in many things, but we are the masters of creative, abstract thinking. I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say we always will be either.

And, everybody’s brain is different. Every experience in life, every hormone, every chemical, every dietary choice and environmental exposure can change the nature of it.

Sometimes they don’t behave like how we want. Sometimes it results in lack of focus or coherence in thought.

Today I want to talk about how unstructured, disorganized thinking can actually help you in your career as a tester.

“Back When I Was Your Age…”

When I was a kid, my mom would always get on my case for my room being a mess. She liked having things organized.

And I… uh, didn’t.

I would tell her, you know, when things are out in the open where I can see them, I can find them quicker. Not so much when they’re all, quote-unquote, “put away”.

She did not appreciate my logic.

The older I get, it seems, the more disorganized I become. For example: I actually stopped a project at home to bang out notes for this blog post. Disorganized.

It really bothers me when I can’t get my brain to shut up long enough to form a coherent thought. Sometimes it seems like I can’t get control and I’m subject to whatever my brain wants to think about right then.

I think as a culture here in the US, we tend to diagnose a lot of things as disorders. And this is going to sound like a cop-out, but I’m starting to wonder if some of them aren’t disorders at all. Some are just, our brains work differently from whatever society perceives as a “norm”.

We’re told and taught that mental focus is key to success and that we have to have a lot of discipline. But, for some people, myself included, that focus doesn’t just happen. It takes either a lot of effort, or the right thing to focus on, for that laser-like concentration to occur.

There are times that I wish I was able to focus. There are other times when I don’t care about focus. And there are times that I am so focused I lose track of time.

So I’m actually going to quit trying to fight it. For any of us, doesn’t matter what it is, if we perceive a disadvantage we have a choice: change whatever caused the disadvantage, work around it, or embrace it as an advantage.

I’m choosing to embrace disorganized thinking as an advantage instead, particularly for QA.

Distracted Testers Find Cool Stuff

How? Well as someone who’s easily distracted by things, I tend to find glitches in the system that other people overlook. Stuff that would usually fade in the background, for some reason just sticks out to me. I can’t not notice it.

Other times, in the middle of testing, if I see an opportunity to search for a particular kind of bug, because the thought just occurred to me, so I go do it. Usually it turns up some good finds that other people didn’t think of.

So in this context, disorganized thinking isn’t a hindrance, it’s a mutant superpower.

Doing Stuff in the Meantime

Instead of waiting for moments of clarity, I go find things that I enjoy doing and do the heck out of them. It helps me be productive, and often shakes me out of whatever funk had me stuck before.

But, switching focus and getting distracted does lend itself to procrastination.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Yes, I said the P-word. I know we often think of procrastination as a bad thing but you know what I’ve found (and that is backed by science) is that, when I give myself less time for something, yeah it’s uncomfortable but some serious ideas shoot out that I wouldn’t have thought up with tons of time. Because “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”

As a culture, we like to get things done way ahead of time but… think about how many times you’ve gained new insight later on, that you wouldn’t have had earlier. Things that totally change the solution.

Call me crazy but I’d rather get something done right the first time, and if waiting/procrastinating gives me an advantage, I’ma take it.


 

Are you a disorganized thinker too? Did this post free you to use that to your advantage?

How does this help your testing? Can you encourage people who might be the same way?

And: Isn’t asking questions like, “Is how we’re defining something actually accurate?” “Is this really a weakness or are we just saying it is?” part of being a tester? Isn’t this exactly the kind of mindset we wanna cultivate?

Yep, I think so.

–Fritz

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9 thoughts on “Disorganized Thinking

  1. To be honest, it’s hard to track my train of thoughts and follow your logic grammatically while reading your passages. Is this due to your organized thinking or writing habit. I’m lost even though forcing myself on concentration on your each sentence. I must live in your opposite – organized thinking world:)

    I do agree procrastination, sometimes does have advantage over disadvantage as normally thought. Letting bullets free fly for a while longer before catching them may not always be bad thing.

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    1. Ha! I went back and re-read my post and it is by far my most disorganized. Maybe that’s irony? And thank you for the critique–although I’m not organized, I do strive to be so when it comes to communication.

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  2. Ahhh! But note the author said disorganized THINKER- one should not automatically assume this leads to gap in or lack of planning . Maybe the opposite- overdone; exhaustive; dynamic; creative?

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  3. I wouldn’t categorize myself as either an organized thinker OR an disorganized one. I have plenty moments of each. I have to make lists, or I cannot keep track of all of the things I think about doing. This lets my mind be free to have random thoughts but still allows me to stay focused when I need or want to be.

    But I do appreciate the idea that being “disorganized” might just a judgmental societal notion from people who lack creativity.

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  4. Organized or disorganized, I don’t think it actually matters unless you need to share your methods with other testers, then an organized approach is better. But whatever the madness, the key is to keep some kind of coverage metrics, that is, code/model coverage versus tests written. If that is not possible, then function coverage metrics (confirming all positive paths work and most/all negative paths fail gracefully). This will work with well organized, requirement-based testing as well as less structured tests.

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  5. Organized or disorganized, I don’t think it actually matters unless you need to share your methods with other testers, in that case an organized approach is usually better. But whatever the madness, the key is to keep some kind of coverage metrics, that is, code/model coverage versus tests written. If that is not possible, then function coverage metrics (confirming all positive paths work and most/all negative paths fail gracefully). This will work with well organized, requirement-based testing as well as less structured tests.

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  6. You might want to look up U. G. Krishnamurti on the internet (e.g. on YouTube)
    What he says would fefinitely would interest you.

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