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Code Freeze 2021: Mob Programming Workshop

The Code Freeze 2021 virtual conference culminated in a two-hour mob programming (a.k.a. ensemble work or samman) workshop. Seventy-four participants worked in 17 groups, each facilitated by an experienced mobber. Facilitators included such luminaries as Woody Zuill, Llewellyn Falco, and Jeff Langr, among lesser lights.

Feedback from participants in my group was similar to that from the others. They were new to mob programming and to test-driven development, as well. Some highlights of their feedback:

  • We got more work done in less time than we could have done working separately.
  • We got a lot done and it wasn’t at all stressful.
  • The group converged on a common vision for the solution very quickly and organically.
  • You don’t really understand this approach until you’ve done it. Just hearing about it isn’t enough.
  • The discipline of changing drivers on a timer helped improve flow.
  • It was productive and fun!
  • I want to take this practice back to my team and company.
  • I’ve worked with teams that tried to do TDD with not-so-good results. Understanding the nuances helps us get value from it.
  • We felt we were bogging down when we got ahead of the tests and tried to code the whole solution. When we re-established the TDD routine, things went more smoothly.
  • The collaborative aspect was very effective and much easier to do than I anticipated.
  • I was skeptical of mob programming until I actually did it.
  • This is addictive. Both the mobbing and the TDD.
  • The time passed really fast.
  • Sometimes it’s hard not to go ahead and code what you’re thinking when you’re in the Driver role, but it’s worth it to keep your mouth shut and let the others navigate.
  • The solution we came up with as a group was different from what I would have done on my own. It’s great to have multiple brains on the same problem.
  • I’m glad we did this remotely, because it shows it’s possible even during the pandemic.

As for me, I was very pleased the group got value from the experience. I’ve found mob programming and TDD to be very effective techniques in my own work, and I’m happy to see others getting into them.