Being a part of Aviation industry and also due to my interest in flying, I follow news & views on aviation. One of my favorite blogs is Jeff Wise’s blog. In one of the blog posts ( http://jeffwise.net/2011/09/20/how-gps-makes-clueless-drivers/), he writes:
If testers are aware of their surroundings, it would be much easier for them to define and decide what and how much needs to be tested. The situational awareness helps testing teams to devise test ideas and coverage that are fit-for-purpose. It helps them prepare for the unknown. If testers are aware of where the project is going, it would be much easier for them to either test rigorously or just to focus on key tests. Or, whether to use exploratory testing or perform risk based testing.
Situational Awareness is not about test planning or test execution only either. It is about understanding the project, product and the dynamics around the team as well. Testing is quite interconnected with almost all other project activities. I asked a Test Lead about his vision and mission of testing and he said that his primary focus is to find the gaps between requirements and application (product). That also meant that anything other than that was not his job. In my view, testers should adopt a broader view and should have a holistic view of the product development.
PS: Jeff Wise is a pilot and an ardent writer on science, aviation, psychology and adventure subjects. He has also written an amazing book called Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger. Both Jeff and I have worked for the same airline of Hong Kong.