“Gray Quests”

Real-world examples of automancery at companies like yours

“Gray Quests”

WOW, Gray Quests

I used to play World of Warcraft years ago, and as I ran around the world collecting quests, the game would track them in a Quest Log, and color them according to my character’s level and the quest difficulty. Green ones were fairly easy, and net you a little bit of experience. Red ones were especially hard, would likely get my character killed, but return a ton of experience if successful.

But, quests would eventually get easier as the character leveled up. If a quest was orange before, then a few levels later it might be green. And, if the quests stayed there long enough, I wouldn’t get any experience if I completed them. And because I’d accepted these quests, they’d just sit there in the Quest Log until I either did them, or dropped them.

These quests were gray.

It’s important, especially in QA, that we keep advancing–keep leveling up. In a way, working in QA is like playing an RPG–we adopt a role, and there’s not real “right” way to do things, as long as we’re killing monsters, completing quests and getting better.

It’s very tempting to get to a spot where we’re comfortable, we know the area, and we get the jobs in that specific area done quickly and efficiently.

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But guess what: playing the game that way ends up not getting us any experience. We’re essentially littering our Quest Log with nothing but gray quests, that don’t level us up.

To apply this to World of QACraft, there are two challenges I’d like to give you.

The first one is: If you’re feeling like you haven’t been growing, haven’t been getting challenged, haven’t felt that whoosh of having learned something new… it’s time to change that.

Seek out things that are similar to what you’re already doing (green quests), something you’re not familiar with (orange quests) or something totally different than what you know (red quests). The  more you do this, the faster you’ll grow and the more valuable you’ll become.

Here’s the second one: Hand off your gray quests to less experienced members of the team.

Work doesn’t colorize how difficult certain tasks are. It’d be nice if it did, because we wouldn’t waste time trying to do something that was way too hard for us. So, if you have things you already know that you can get done quickly and easily, try handing that over to someone less experienced, and maybe give them some pointers. As they do them, they’ll grow, and maybe find better ways to do it. It’ll show a level of maturity and security in you, that you’re willing to turn over work you know you can do, so someone else can sharpen themselves. You’ll have more time for harder stuff, and can spend more time growing. As a team, everyone will be growing faster. Plus, it creates fewer bottlenecks, and if someone leaves, it won’t be as much strain on the remaining team members, and overall morale.