Stephen Hawking in his (one of the) best book(s) A Brief History of Time, mentions that our world was once occupied by Reptiles in shape of giant dinosaurs centuries ago. Slowly and gradually, their kingdom was taken over by Mammals in shape of human beings. He then asks what could be the reason. Well, there could be many but Hawking suggests that it was due to the fact that Mammals pass knowledge to their next generations whereas Reptiles don’t. He further notes that Reptiles would leave their eggs beneath sand and when a child is born, it is without any parents and community. Thus a danger leading to death is not in the knowledge of the new born and if the same threat that killed it’s parents comes it’s way, the new born can also be gone. Compare this to mammals who nurture the new born in a family, spend lot of time in the community and thus impart the knowledge of that generation. Hawking notes that this transfer of knowledge from one generation to other is what has leaded the human race to reach the heights that we see now. The great influx of innovations in later 20th century and continuing into the 21st century is due to the knowledge gained in all the previous centuries.
(Note: these are my words explaining the concept and are not exact quotes from the book. Also note that Hawking is more known as a scientist but we need to get more from him on philosophy. Those who separate Science from Philosophy, are you listening? J )
(original photo at: http://hodarinundu.deviantart.com/art/Not-so-fast-mammals-282582558 )
OK, long story but what it means to us the testers?
If you are a senior Tester, do you pass on all knowledge that you possess to the new comers? Do you take time to teach them the history of the product/project, the test plans, the big defect database, the failures, the success stories… all pages from history. That knowledge is very important.
If you are the new born in a Testing team, do you see yourself living in Reptiles who fled after burying the egg in the sand? You come out and the whole world is against you? Or you see a mammal family to take care of your early days.
What other attributes of Mammals we should be adapting to become better at what ever we do?