Friday, February 2, 2018

Mob programming - the heaven of a tester. Part1: the beginning


Have you heard of mob programming? Probably you have. If you haven't I stroooongly recommend you to take a look (https://youtu.be/8cy64qkgTyI) or listen (https://soundcloud.com/cucumber-podcast/mob-programming) to Woody Zuill describing the process.

My team has been doing mob development (we call it rather that than mob programming) now for two years, and it is superb. We don't do it all the time, but when we do it is inspiring to be part of a mob. And I think it is very efficient too! Also in my role I have several reasons to argue Why every tester needs a mob (and ever mob a tester), and I want to tell about what usually happens in our mobs, but those are future blog posts. This time I will tell the story of how and why we started mobbing.

I first heard of mob programming from Woody Zuill in Tampere Goes Agile conference 2014. It sounded kind of crazy, five people working on one machine, but at the same time many of the things I heard really resonated. So I was intrigued, but at that time felt that this was beyond my reach and thus didn't actively pursue it. But the seed was planted.

Forwarding a few years, we were thinking in our rapidly growing team of ways how to continue to work as a team and how to break some silos that had formed. So we came up with this idea of work groups. Kind of dynamically splitting into groups of 3-6 people who would take full responsibility on planning, implementing and releasing specific things. And here I now thought that mob programming could in some way fit nicely into this. 

But how to get there? I was the most experienced one with some reading and participation into a single workshop of Agile Finland, and wasn't too comfortable on leading with that. But then on another meetup, think it was tech excellence, I got to talk about this with Llewellyn Falco who was immediately ready to come by and facilitate a 2 hour try out session. And my great colleagues were all up for that. 

So we did it and people liked it. It was fun! Nobody was thinking of going full fledged extreme mob programming, but curious to learn more. Luckily, we happened to have a team gathering coming up, so we decided to do this there for two days straight - and we did. For two days we broke into groups of 4 people & 1 laptop to work on some features. First discuss why to do it, and then go straight into doing it. 

After the two intensive days we had a little retro and made a pretty much unanimous decision to continue to do this. Every week, at least once, each group would do a mob. So that decision has now held for two years - some weeks we do a lot of mobbing, some weeks little. But we do it. And it is the heaven of a tester

I am not saying that this might be for everything, or everybody. But I believe everybody should at least take a shot at this. And as a first step, I am more than happy to recommend contacting Llewellyn who is a brilliant coach for this. 

Just do it.


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