Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Building up to a Treshold

For 1.5 years, I've been with my team as a vocal supporter of mob and pair programming. Getting my team, or any of the nearby teams to mob has been a challenge. We've mobbed a few times on functional testing, once on performance testing, once for purposes of learning TDD together but that is about it.

Being a vocal supporter doesn't mean that I couldn't accept a no. I will not force people into doing things they don't want to do. But I keep on mentioning problems that just would go away if we paired or mobbed. And that people who really like each other wouldn't make the others waste so much time working alone towards a pull request where their early contributions would have made a world of difference.

I see problems of many sorts. Lack of empathy. Not understanding one another. Waiting and building queues. Being less happy, less efficient. Making excuses. Blaming. Avoiding necessary feedback when it is delayed. And I keep believing that we could do differently. We can be ok now, but awesome if we find better ways.

In particular with my teams, there has been one vocal person against the whole idea. When someone everyone else is supposed to look up to is vocally saying what they hate about pairing, it makes it hard for others who are conflict averse to step up and say they disagree.

A week ago things started changing, finally. First one new person joined the team, emphasizing how much pairing and teaching people more junior would impact their happiness. They, for the first  time, stood up as the second strong voice, in disagreement.

It was obvious which side I stood on. Discussions in team emerged, and one by one, people started saying they'd love to pair regularly or pair sometimes. The last joiners clearly joined the now "popular belief" that this was worth doing even if they weren't originally strong proponents.

There's this idea of threshold. That when one person does something, that someone may just be peculiar. But when the group grows big enough, the ones not doing it are the peculiar ones. And as social creatures, we tend to want to be with the in-crowd.

Glad I got to this before they made me a manager. Proved me that long term work and kinds reminders push through without assigned power.

Looking forward to pairing with my team more. And making it a great experience that includes us all.