All testing is not created equal!
When it comes to testing, I have an extreme bias towards exploratory work and away from scripted work. That's not that smart though because when done correctly, scripted work can add value.
The trick is knowing the difference!
What is important to know?
Scripted work is most concerned with how to do important tests.
Exploratory work is most concerned with why we test important features.
What are the best things to look for?
Scripted work looks for specific objective facts about the system.
Exploratory work investigates specific risks in the system.
What emergent behaviour can we detect?
Scripted work is likely to miss emergent behaviour of the system.
Exploratory work is more able to spot emergent behaviour of the system.
How easy is it to automate?
Scripted work is easier to automate.
Exploratory work is more difficult to automate.
How do we explain what to do?
Scripted work uses lots of pre-defined steps that must be followed.
Exploratory work leaves the performance of the tests up to the tester.
What do we report on?
Scripted work reports on how many things have been executed, passed and failed.
Exploratory work reports on what has been tested, what hasn't and why.
Where is the focus?
Scripted work focuses on counting and documenting test cases.
Exploratory work focuses on doing testing.
The secret is to blend both kinds of work.
This isn't about one being better than the other.
My mistake was to assign some kind of intrinsic value to one kind of work over the other. Please don't make the same mistake! The goal is to do the most effective work possible and sometimes that means picking the most appropriate way to test. Sometimes it's not even about testing.
But that's an idea for another post!