Abstract/Description

After we leave school, how do we learn? Books, blogs, videos, conferences, training courses. Who creates all this material? Experts, self-proclaimed or otherwise.

Despite occasional resistance to expertise in all its forms, the expert is still an important contributor to the growth of the team and the individual. However, expertise comes in many shapes and sizes. Some expert advice is related to context – it is relevant only in specific circumstances. Some expert advice is related to proficiency – it is relevant only once you have attained some level of skills. The expert offering advice via mass media knows neither your context nor your proficiency. How do you gain confidence that advice is appropriate for you and that you’ve understood it correctly?

We’ll explore several classic embodiments of expert advice, to see how misunderstandings can cause problems, despite the best intentions. The examples we’ll look at are:
* an acronym: INVEST, created by Bill Wake
* a metaphor: the Test Automation Pyramid, created by Mike Cohn
* a template: Connextra (As-A/I-Want/So-That), created by Rachel Davies

Expert advice taken in good faith, that leads to bad outcomes, is corrosive. This sort of corrosive expertise teaches us to become distrustful. It’s time to reiterate that there is no magic formula, no silver bullet. At best, expertise can lend you a framework within which to think, but it will never make thinking unnecessary. While experts have valuable things to say, we need to filter their insights through our own experience.

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