We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
I’ve been learning a new product and so I have been in exploration mode. I’ve spent the last week poking around and learning many new things about the product. Making maps of it to get a better understand. Trying things out in different ways. Setting up little experiments. Asking questions. Even on occasion reading some documentation.
The team I am a part of is responsible for one particular area of the product, and so I have kept circling back to that area. Every time I come back I find that during my wanderings in other parts of the product I have learned something new. I’ve gained insights that give some new light on the area of interest. At first glance it seems like this part of the product is pretty simple, but the more I learn and understand how the pieces fit together, the more I see that simplicity is hard to do. It takes a lot of work to make something look and feel simple. There is a lot of hidden complexity. As I understand that complexity better, I get better at understanding the risks. I get better at seeing where the problems might be and chasing down odd behaviors.
It can be easy to think that you know something, but it is only as you continue to return to it time after time that you really begin to understand it. Sometimes testers can feel like they are spinning in circles, returning to the same area over and over, but every time you come back to something you are different. You’ve learned new things and had new experiences. There are biases you have (and you would do well to learn and understand them), but it is still a new you. Use the things you’ve learned. Make the old familiar areas of the product come alive by bringing in your new perspective. Perhaps T.S. Eliot was right. It is only when we return to something that we will be able to know it for the first time.