Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pairing and Mobbing are not the only ways to collaborate

A friend I enjoy connecting with on testing themes sent me a message today. They expressed they had enjoyed my pair testing article on medium, and had an idea they wanted to contribute on type of testing I had not addressed.

This was a form of collaboration where two people (a pair, you may say) worked on two computers, side-by-side on the same task. The two might be intertwined in the activity so that one looks one end, the other another end. And it is very much collaborative. They suggested this would be a model of pairing with two drivers, both with their hands on the keyboard - a separate one though.

In my article, I introduced the traditional style pair testing, where often the navigator would be making notes, deciphering what was going on with the driver who had control. Nothing says the second person couldn't be taking those notes on a computer, but what typically happens is that the notes, in comparison to strong-style pair testing, are of a private nature and don't always reflect what was going on in a manner that is shared between the pair.

Similarly, here with two computers and testing side by side, we can figure out many ways to still work in a very collaborative manner.

I find myself often testing in ways where there is two or more testers in the same space, at the same time, sharing a task while we still are not mobbing or pairing. It's more about sharing energy, and enthusiasm, giving hints of things others can pick up and run with, and continuously coming back together to understand where we are.

I tested that way today with a developer, over a teams chat. We would be calling out our progress and observations, pondering on things that did not work out quite as we thought. The chat version works when people are active in sharing. I absolutely adore this dev for the way he is transforming the team now from his position of seniority, and driving collaboration without pairing forward.

In the past, some of my most fun days have been when we work side by side with other people, testers and developers, growing ideas and solving problems. While formal pairing and mobbing are great and give a structure, the other ways of working together also beat the "alone in a corner" any day. Some tests require many computers, like the test at Finnish Parliament where they had to bring in 200 people serving with the Finnish military forces to control 200 devices, for one test to be completed.

No matter what, we should be learning and contributing. Work is so much fun, and it makes no sense to dumb or numb it down.