I just posted this on the Agile-Testing list; it is rough, uncouth, and just a start, but it was fun to write and I wanted to share.
If I could just polish the general ideas here, it might actually be the start of something ...
Will be interested to know more how testing skills are different from approach/methods etc. Also, what are these skills? Can they be learn, if yes how? Will appreciate any literature on the subject.
I submit to you that testing is applied critical thinking and general systems thinking. So, this is my quick and dirty list of influences for how to sharpen your brain.
For critical thinking, I'd suggest the classics - Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, but they might bore you to tears. :-)
For something a bit more modern, consider "I, Robot" by Asimov, or Maybe "Starship Troopers" by Heinlein. For extra credit, compare and contrast the movie to the book.
A bit more seriously, I got a *LOT* out of my course in "Logic and Rational Thought" at Hood College that I took in 1994.
The Course Description
The Text Book
The course included symbolic logic, truth tables and decision trees, which is basically equivalence classes for smarties.
A few years later I took discrete math at Salisbury University, which covered similar material, with a bit of a math bent. Checking on Amazon, this book looks pretty good.
From the intro blurb:
"Discrete Mathematics and its Applications is a focused introduction to the primary themes in a discrete mathematics course, as introduced through extensive applications, expansive discussion, and detailed exercise sets. These themes include mathematical reasoning, combinatorial analysis, discrete structures, algorithmic thinking, and enhanced problem-solving skills through modeling."
For general systems thinking applied to IS, consider the works of Jerry Weinberg. "Quality Software Management: Volume I" and "Becoming a technical leader" are a pretty good place to start.
Personally, I've got a good bit out of military science (http://www.xndev.com/articles/articles.htm - Search for "Leading the Way"), and a little bit out of cognitive science and educational theory. (Read Up on Richard Fenyman)
When I a child, my Father taught me to play chess. I would strongly recommend any game that involves making choices, trade offs, and optimizations. "Car Wars" By Steve Jackson games is an oldie but a goody; games by Avalon Hill are also good.
There's also anything by Orson Scott Card ("Treason" and the Ender Series come to mind) or "Who's to Say" by Norman Melchert.
Again, that is totally offhand. James Bach has a number of "testing challenges" that can strengthen your brain bone. Studying Physics, Math, and applied problem solving (proofs) can help.
Hey Bolton, what did I miss?
Schedule and Events
March 26-29, 2012, Software Test Professionals Conference, New Orleans
July, 14-15, 2012 - Test Coach Camp, San Jose, California
July, 16-18, 2012 - Conference for the Association for Software Testing (CAST 2012), San Jose, California
August 2012+ - At Liberty; available. Contact me by email: Matt.Heusser@gmail.com