Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Being a Driver in Strong-Style pairing

...this post continues where I left of with my previous post.

Driver: Things to Do

You are the intelligent input device. What is expected of you except for typing as you're told?

  • Push back. Express that you need to modify the way the navigator is navigating you. You may want to change the box in which you work, make it bigger to give you more freedom or make it smaller to be clearer on what to do. You may realise you need to try something else, and express that in questions. Key is to be active even when driving. 
  • Improvise. The navigator gives you a box within which you operate. You have choices on how you can do things. You choose what you believe to be nest for context at hand, and driver gives you more detail if she disagrees with your choices. Improvising is about adding your intelligence to the collaboration. 
  • Switch level of abstraction. If you feel the abstraction level of navigating could be higher or lower, talk back to the navigator. If the navigator is using too low level, you can give them the higher level. "You can just tell me to run it", when navigator is telling you shortcut in keystrokes. If the navigator is using too high level, you can ask "Tell me what to type?" or "Where's that located?". Change the level of abstraction and enable a common experience of learning to work together better. 
  • Ask questions. If you feel something isn't right, ask about it. You can simply go for "Are you sure?" to stop the navigator to think about what is going on. Keep your questions specific so that the answers can be short. You can try validating questions to clarify what is going on right now, "It seems we're using zip-add-object to regulate temperatures, is that correct?". You can check if the thing you did was correct against your understanding: "I thought the database only accepted one connection at a time. Why did we do two?". You can suggest where to go, without deciding for the navigator: "Shouldn't we do this first?". Avoid general why-questions and work to prevent long explanations.
  • Initiate role switch on an idea. When you realise what should be done and think you could navigate this task better, initiate a role switch. You can switch roles on idea, without waiting for the timer. Or you could never use a timer and switch on tasks. 
It's good to remember that you as the driver are helping the navigator to navigate. Sometimes navigators will try a general avoidance technique of declaring tasks mundane, and great driver will volunteer to be around even for that task. Sometimes you are just literally trying to go against the excuse. Sometimes the two of you just need to get through the bad stuff together to get to the fun stuff together, to build the long-term relationship. 

Underneath what we actually do as driver, there's a bunch of attitudes to consider:
  • Trust your navigator. Stay in the moment. Be ready to work with partial knowledge. Your navigator is probably only one step ahead of you. 
  • Just try it. You can always do it both ways and end up with a third that builds on top of both. Learn by doing. Learning while doing is just as important as getting the end result out of the process. 
  • Constant self-reflection. Investigate what is going through you. Focus on learning. When following your navigator, you're reverse-engineering. Navigator keeps telling you stuff. You get a very thin, narrow view into the system. You can start putting things together a lot and this gives you a chance to reflect on what you're learning individually as driver with your pair. 
  • Patience. Give the relationship time. It's good on  both sides, but it's extra useful on the driver side who works with incomplete knowledge. 
There's two main pitfalls to being a driver. 
  • Thinking. You think within the box or change the box. Thinking too far as the driver takes the navigator's focus on bringing you back to the task at hand. 
  • Silence. It's not an open box to do anything you think of. If you want to take the lead, switch roles, but try not to run your own way with the silence.