Friday, November 11, 2016

Ruining the life of the introvert

I listened to an insightful talk by Elizabeth Zagroba on Succeeding as an Introvert yesterday, and throughout the talk I kept reflecting my own thoughts. I thought about how awful the idea of Mob Testing I introduced first thing in the morning must be for someone who identifies strongly as an introvert. I thought about how I've been regularly labeled as extrovert, yet how I recognized most of the introverted aspects she was describing in her talks as things I do - like thinking critically once more after the meeting is done. I thought about how with those definitions, almost everyone in Finland would be an introvert. And I laughed at my cultural discomfort earlier that morning when the Americans decided to talk to me in the elevator.

I remembered back to my old job, citing one of the developers who wasn't particularly happy with me bringing agile ways of working into the place: "You are here to ruin the life of introvert developers". I hoped I wasn't then, and I still hope so.

Mobbing may seem like a nightmare for the introverted. Sitting in a room with people the whole day, and forcing the task to happen on one computer through speaking up about what should happen on that computer. It sounds like it's hard to disengage, as there's a continuous rotation of each mob member being on the keyboard. I had no time to address this in my talk, so I thought about writing on it.

When reading an article about how Google builds great teams, I had written down a quote:
Good teams are not teams where introverts are left by themselves but ones where they feel safe and can open up. 
We all, introverts and extroverts alike, want our contributions to matter. A great team is one where everyone pitches in, in ways they find comfortable. Leaving introverts entirely alone would't work, and having the special traits of introverts available is an asset.

A lot of times, introverts struggle to be heard even more than extroverts. In a functioning mob where "kindness, consideration and respect" is in action, introverts might have a better chance of getting their insights incorporated. In a delivery process that welcomes ideas and feedback at any time, the time to reflect to come to an idea is a non-issue. In a mob, anyone can use a second computer while working on the shared task for research activities. A lot of times, this enables an individual to contribute just the right thing at the right time, to keep the overall task flowing. In a mob, anyone can step out at any time, going for a walk to take quiet time, and just rejoin when ready. The work continues meanwhile, and after.  "Ask what you need" was Elizabeth's message yesterday, and that resonated with me.

Mobs are not just for extroverts. I have utmost respect for Aaron Griffith, with a test automation background and an integral part of the original Hunter mob and a self-proclaimed introvert. His article on Mob Programming for the Introverted is a great reference to someone's experience who isn't just thinking about introversion, but living a life of one - in a 40 hours a week mob.