Too much pairing

At our most recent retrospective everyone in our newly formed team commented on how effective and productive the promiscuous pairing we were doing was, especially in neatly formatted pomodoro sessions. There was, however, and to our surprise, one comment from a project manager about there being ‘too much pairing’.

After a little probing it turns out there were concerns from business people not familiar with pair programming about pairing being unproductive and an expensive waste of developer resource.

I don’t post this intending to pimp pairing, but rather to remind ourselves that sometimes our methods, techy or not, can seem strange to the business and that we should, in an agile team anyway, be worried about what they think. Applying this to other things we do: Does our testing seem lacklustre? Are they confused about specification workshops?

In this case it is simply a matter of educating them, but worth doing so in order to maintain the trust and openness that makes our team effective.

Saying that, it could have just been the pomodoro timers annoying them.

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1 Response to “Too much pairing”


  1. 1 Jen 1 June, 2009 at 7:58 am

    It’s quite hard to justify pairing – from the outside it could seem a waste of resources – if I had 4 people moving stuff out of my house and they wanted to pair to lift each box I might grumble because I am paying them by the hour. It is rational to assume that the box lifting rate isn’t going to go up – all that changes is that two people lift the boxes at the same time – so all that is going up is the money I have to pay…

    But in the case of software development (and maybe even removals…) we know the benefits of pairing in terms of increasing quality, shared understanding actually mean there isn’t a cleancut 50% slowdown or a 100% increase in resources that you might assume from just looking at the numbers (a PM’s job!).

    Suggest you need to gradually earn trust, stick to your guns and keep at it! Then try justifying the fact we write about 4 lines of test code to each 1 line of production code ;-)


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