QA Inbreeding

QA is a huge discipline. It’s important to hire for a variety of approaches to it, not hire a bunch of the same skillset.

When we have too many people thinking the same way about problem solving, our idea pool will suffer from inbreeding.

What’s Inbreeding?

In biology, inbreeding occurs when you don’t have enough genetic information to have variety. Weird things happen.

For example, it’s generally accepted that you should not make babies with family. There’s not enough new genetic information, and it causes problems.

But sometimes we do the same thing, by hiring the same type of thought process.

Application to QA

One of the first things I do when working with a new tester, or coming new into a team, is figure out how the testers there find their bugs. Whatever’s not being done, I do.

The reason is simple: If we all think the same way, we’re all going to solve the same problems. We become nose-blind and miss the problems we don’t see. 

Everybody has a style that they employ. Some people like to behave like an idiot user and find bugs that way. Some people take a security approach by doing xss or sql injection or otherwise being ornery. Others still find their bugs by testing boundary values.

But if everybody approached testing the same, wouldn’t that cause the team to keep finding the same kind of defects? What about the ones you don’t find, or don’t think of? Wouldn’t that eventually hurt the team or the company?

How to Prevent Inbreeding

  • Take stock of what kinds of knowledge you have in your brain pool,
  • Hire for passion AND variety,
  • Try seeing if someone internally would like to do a different type of testing.

If you have a driven person skilled in a type of testing, and they’re applying for something outside their comfort zone, hire them.

If a team member expresses interest in learning a new type of testing, let them.

If someone at your company likes sharing what they know with others, give them more stuff to share.

All of these are meant to get some different Brain Juice in the mix. Fresh eyes on a problem, with a different skillset, will find you some information that otherwise wouldn’t be available.

When you start “hybrid-izing” skillsets, great things will happen.

Does your team knowledge feel kinda limited? Maybe there’s too much groupthink. How can you change that?

Do your brains get gridlocked on ideas sometimes? Maybe it’s time for a change.

With my consultancy, Arch DevOps LLC, I help with testing, automation and team leadership. I also infuse new skillsets into people, creating knowledge combos that were previously unavailable. 

Would you like to find out more?



One thought on “QA Inbreeding

  1. Totally agree with what you’re saying – we need diversity to keep pushing ourselves to learn and grow. We also need people who have the courage to explore alone, who understand why it’s important they don’t simply follow the path others have already taken.


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