Saturday, February 13, 2016

Two 1st timer mobbing mistakes

We run a few mobbing sessions (both programming (selenium & unit tests) and testing (exploring & identifying security holes) at European Testing Conference 2016 this week. As usual in conferences, there was also a lot of amazing eye-opening discussions, and one theme in particular was about people's experiences with mobbing.

With Llewellyn Falco, we summarized the two most common mistakes people seem to be running into when doing their 1st ever mob, and ending up with a bad experience.

  1. Long rotation
    When you start, use 4 minute timer to switch roles. The reason for this is simple: when you rotate fast, you get quickly used to changing perspectives between the driver and navigator. The rotation enables you to acquire skills related to working in this format, and keep everyone engaged. It also prevents getting stuck on one person and having one person dominate the mob a lot. It keeps the idea in a mob as opposed to in a single person. Iterations matter more than time. If you are going to spend an hour at the keyboard, it's better to have 10 iterations that to have one.
  2. Not using strong-style driver-navigator approach
    In strong-style, the person at the keyboard is doing no thinking. The rest of the mob navigates her through the task. When you don't use strong-style, the navigators have to reverse-engineer what the driver is thinking. Also, if you don't use strong-style, every time you rotate you have one person thinking and when you rotate, you have a new person thinking. When you use strong-style in a 5 person mob, you have four people thinking and the rotation causes no disruption to taking the task forward. 
There are many other aspects having a successful mob, but these are the two big ones. If you are interested in reading more on this, check out our Mob Programming Guidebook