Effective Pairing: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Pairing can be a highly effective practice that adds significant value to a project, or it can be a disaster whose cost far exceeds managers’ fears that they are just paying two people to do the work of one. In the worst case, you won’t get the work of one out of the two. They might even do damage that others have to clean up later. The challenge lies in the fact that working as a pair demands a level of attentiveness, collaboration, and continuous focus that working solo just doesn’t require. We want to demonstrate some of the behaviors that can undermine the value of pairing, solicit audience feedback about their own experiences and observations, and explain how and why pairing works or doesn’t work. This session was first presented at Agile 2008, where a group of four people rehearsed and acted out “bad pairing” scenarios. In this case, the scenarios have not been rehearsed. Participants in the session will be asked to come forward to act out scenarios with the facilitator. Participants may also suggest scenarios based on their own experiences. Together, we will discuss approaches to correcting the unproductive pairing behaviors.

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