Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Little Lesson on Paired Work

Being the only tester in a group of sometimes not-so-forward-thinking developers can try my patience. With a few more postponing excuses for our autumn-time mob programming, we're still doing solo work. And I'm still feeling the need of connection.

When my developers won't pair with me, I'm lucky to find another developer who will - to learn more about pairing in practice. We spent an hour pairing together in strong-style, with me navigating us testing a new feature of our product. This gives him an opportunity see what I actually do as an exploratory tester and potentially put insights from testing together with ideas of programming to suggest ways to do things better together.

This session was not one of the days on when we'd find stuff to automate. This session was about unbelievable amount of problems at the point when I got my hands on it, and the perceived insanity of not working together better to shorten the feedback loop with my developers.

There was one very small thing that happened during the pairing session.
Paradigm of pairing pushed me to discover more on a tool I had become complacent about. 
We needed to take screenshots of the first of the various problems, and he was about to get to Windows Start-menu to find the snipping tool when I stopped him and navigated elsewhere. I told him to just press print screen -button and could see the argument building up on having to cut pieces of the image later, but he extended the trust to do what I told without explanation - exhibiting wonderful driver behaviour. As he pressed the button, Greenshot on my test machine kicked into play and we could narrow down the screenshot.

Some of the screenshots were just situational pictures without need of explanation, and we could quickly save them to my default location. But others needed information to be added, and we opened them in the editor that comes with the tool for annotation. When we've done our texts and boxes to mark the spots, we needed to save. I insisted on saving through File-menu with the option that saves to default location. And as we opened the menu, his minor hesitance made me pay attention to the keyboard shortcut for that option, which was the usual one for the primary save (ctrl+s).

I've been using the tool for years, but had not stopped to notice a detail that was eating very small bits of my time over and over again, and that there was a better way. He did not know to teach me that, he had never seen the tool before. He did not even directly point it out, but I wouldn't have noticed without him as I wasn't paying attention. Paradigm of pairing pushed me to discover more on a tool I had become complacent about.

This is a great lesson on pairing. There's all these little things that happen in paired work that makes us better. If every day of the year brings one of these insights, we have quite a number after pairing up over time. There's so many chances of learning when working in close collaboration with others, and strong-style pairing feels to be creating a connection enabling this.