This heuristic is backwards

Recently, I’ve been asked to make some comments on a book. I’m using a technique I ‘discovered’  in my early days of testing.
I am calling it the ‘Backwards Heuristic’.
In my early days of testing when I had to review documents, I lacked the confidence to speak out in review meetings. I quickly found out (rightly or wrongly) that to make a decent impression in a review, salient points had to made quickly before any team member came up with the same point.  The main reason for this, most people had only read the first three chapters of a document, because they either a) lost interest in the document  b) ran out of time  or c) were not given suitable notice about the review. Consequently,  beyond the first few chapters, most people had few or any real comment to make. In fact, review meetings often turned into an intensive discussion on the ‘introduction’, or the’ intended audience’.

So, I came up with a cunning plan, which I now call my backwards heuristic.  What I did was  always started reviewing documents from the last chapter to the first. My thought process was, most people never read the last chapters, so if anything was going to be missed, it was there.   I was on a winner, by reviewing any document from the last chapter to the first, I most always had something to comment about that was unique and worth discussing. What’s more, it often took me less time to come up with something worthwhile, than if I had read the document from start to finish.
Its only now that I have gotten round to calling it ‘the backward heuristic’, mostly because I’m reviewing James Bach’s course on RST.  However, perhaps this has been discussed by other people before? Or does it take a truly devious tester to think up such methods

3 thoughts on “This heuristic is backwards

  1. Great idea. The Backwards approach is an example of something I call a defocusing heuristic. This one helps keep a group of reviewers from over-focusing on the front of document, providing better coverage.

  2. What is special about your approach is – you seem to bring in a unique value that compliment what others bring in.
    However, do you run out of time to read the first few chapters?

    How often do you use Forward reading heuristic?

    Have you ever repented for doing the backward heuristic?

    Describe your first experience of using backward heuristic and what value it fetched you and in what context.

    1. Hi Pradeep, some good questions there! I will try and answer them:
      “do you run out of time to read the first few chapters?”

      I often did run out of time and didn’t read the first few chapters. However, I counted on other reviewers to use the more ‘traditional’ techniques to cover those pages.

      “How often do you use Forward reading heuristic?”
      I use both techniques to keep me engaged whilst reviewing a document. It helps me keep my mind alert.

      “Have you ever repented for doing the backward heuristic?”
      Hmm, I don’t recall a specific time. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t one!

      “Describe your first experience of using backward heuristic and what value it fetched you and in what context.”
      I remember I was reviewing a Test Specification document which contained hundreds of test scripts. I suppose the value it fetched in general terms was that it provided me with an approach that I still use today. In terms of exact value to the project, its too far back to recall.

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