Discovery techniques to dig deeper


Discovery techniques - part 2

In the previous post from this series, we introduced our 'discovery cards' that have been created to help teams get more out of their collaborative discussions, a tool used in the Hindsight BDD training course. We looked at techniques to help get the conversation started, but teams also need to go beyond the surface of a requirement or idea to really appreciate the value. In some cases, this can also lead to the discovery of other ideas and requirements.

Hindsight holding card.png

So, for this post, we are going to look at a couple of techniques that can be used to help teams delve deeper into ideas and requirements, ensuring they do so efficiently and effectively.

Clarifying questions

These sometimes feel like you’re stating the obvious, but they can help to confirm understanding about a given example. They often highlight when team members have different interpretations, and help to solidify ideas.


Q: What do you mean by ….?
Q: So, is X like Y?
Q: Can you give me an example?

Use it when…

  • The team is newly formed

  • A new member joins the team

  • The team has just started practicing BDD

Watch out

Clarifying questions are intended to ensure the team has shared understanding; take care when forming them so that they don’t sound like an attack on others.

Funnel questions

Listening and using the previous answer as the basis for your next question, allows you to refine and hone in on details uncovered by earlier questions.


Q: How many bookings can a user have?
A: Five

Q: Is there a reason for the limit?
A: I don’t want users manipulating availability

Use it when…

The conversation has already been established and you need to dig deeper into the details.

Watch out

This technique requires good active listening skills to pick up on details; trying to write notes at the same time can make this difficult.

Wrapping up

Ideas don’t come from a vacuum, they are usually the product of discussions, emotions, assumptions and desires. If we take these things for granted it can affect our understanding of what we are delivering. By using these techniques in a collaborative session we can learn more about our users and their needs, identify examples and requirements that might have been missed, and generally leave the session with a deeper understanding of what needs to be delivered.

In our final post, we will look into techniques that can be used to help reveal examples and ideas that might be hidden inside the examples we have already captured.

There's more where that came from...

This is blog post 2 of our 3 part discovery technique series. You can find links to these below:

Discovery techniques post 1 - Discovery techniques to get started

Discovery techniques post 3 - Discovery techniques to reveal new ideas

About the author

Mark Winteringham, aka @2bittester , is a coach, teacher, mentor, tester and international speaker, and ranked joint 8th in Agile Testing Days 2017 list of most influential agile testing professionals. Mark has worked on award-winning projects using various web, mobile and desktop technologies and he has been an agent for change for clients across a wide range of sectors, implementing successful BDD and automation in testing strategies. Mark’s focus for the past year or so has been educating teams on how not to use BDD, and he co-developed and delivers the Hindsight 2-day BDD & Cucumber training course.

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