Pair Programming Re-visited

Our technical lead (a wise colleague) has put his foot down and said we’re all to pair. We’ve got out of the habit recently I don’t know why. He’s laid down the rules. We’re to pair every day and we decide who we’re pairing with at the morning standup. There should be one person who knows the task to do and one person who doesn’t know that task so well. At the end of the day’s pairing, both people should know the task well. The person at the keyboard is the code monkey who just types and learns, the person ‘navigating’ is the one who thinks ahead and who is thinking about the design. The one who is ahead in understanding should wait for the other to catch up – it is of the utmost importance that a shared understanding is arrived at otherwise it’s a waste of time. The person who is ‘catching up’ should question all the time to ensure their own understanding. The next day you rotate pairs. Ideally, if you haven’t finished the task you were pairing on, then the person who started off knowing the work well should move on and the person left should continue the work with another partner. 

We’ve been going through this procedure for 2 weeks now and I can see the benefit. Knowledge is being spread and as we rotate pairs every day I don’t feel I can get on people’s nerves too much. I also feel that it’s good to get comfortable working closely with all members of the team and to get to know their style and strengths and weaknesses – it makes you appreciate your colleagues more.  


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