Monday, October 24, 2005

Pair Programming: Issue 3 : I like you so much I won't Pair with you

[The third installment of my response to a colleague's queries about Pair Programming]

Issue 3: The ill feelings that develop during PP exercises can ruin a team dynamic. Good friends who do PP can often end up as not-so-good friends


Nonsense. I have only ever seen Pairing improve the team dynamics - the issue here I think may be different: Two people sitting at the same desk is not necessarily Pair Programming.

As per my previous post the practice of Pairing is not doer-criticiser. It is a real collaboration. You can hear a real Pairing experience. However, I have seen poor Pairing leading to falling out.

People who attempt Pairing without starting with someone who's really done it before, or who do not commit to it as a different way of behaving will not gain the benefits. Like any practice you have to really do it: externalize your dialogue, concentrate on the system not the mechanism of its construction, seek to agree, state who you feel and think using "I" and don't speak for others (e.g. "this is not the right way","generally...","the rest of the team...")

Pairing is a different behaviour model to normal working patterns of two people. The "norm" in projects is either person-with-problem-and-helper or senior-guiding-junior. Hence why a lot of questions of fear-about-criticism and seniority come up in talking about Pairing. They are generally the only models people have experienced.

So who is responsible for ensuring good Pairing? Everyone! The Coach, the Manager, other Pairs, the Customer....everyone. If you hear a Pair not working you must say something. If Pairing is broken, then Agile is broken IMHO.

Pairing is different. In my experience the interactions help build teams as everyone starts to appreciate the way others work and the personal benefits of Pairing. It is challenging but it pays off.

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