An agile murder mystery

Using riddles to challenge our biases

When confronted with a lack of context, our brains tend to fill in the gaps. We then ask our questions based on this fictional context. This workshop addresses those biases and makes them tangible.

'The lights went out, and then she died.'   What might possibly have happened? This is an example of a so called 'Black Story' or lateral thinking puzzle. The point is to ask yes/no questions until you can fill out the context of this cryptic summary. By having so little context, it can be difficult to figure out which questions will get you further and which ones are only adding to the noise.

Moreover, our brains tend to fill up the gaps and create a context of their own - which rarely aligns with reality.  

For many testers, this is the daily reality. We have to ask the right questions in order to be able to do our work. This isn't always easy. This workshop helps train our question asking skills and allows us to experience how our biases can prevent us from being as open-minded as we'd like to be. Black stories, also known as 'lateral thinking puzzles', are riddles that can only be solved by thinking out of the box and by identifying and challenging the assumptions you have about the context of the riddle. By letting the attendees try different methods of tackling the riddles, I aim to let the group find what works well and what does not.

We will use Black Stories to keep it fun (everybody loves a mystery!), but there are some valuable take-aways to be had from solving these riddles as a group. The aim is to practice with asking broad questions and using the answers to ask more focused questions, to improve collaboration, to truly feel and experience our own biases, and to take home a game concept that you can use in your own team.

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