Pair Programming Lessons from Improv

Thanks to Tim Ottinger for reminding me of Arlo Belshee’s post, “Is Pair Programming for Me?” Go read Arlo’s post, as it’s insightful and has more useful content than most articles on pairing. I’m just going to springboard off of one skill that Arlo mentioned being important to learn.

How to avoid “paragraphing” when talking. Learning to speak in half-sentences, leaving room for the other to take the idea in an unexpected direction.

A few years back, I took a course in “Beginning Improv Acting.” (Continued)

Learning from experience

It is good when we learn from our experiences–much better than when we don’t learn from them. I recently wrote about learning, or failing to learn, from observing others. A recent discussion on the scrumdevelopment yahoogroup got me thinking about another way to learn from experiences, and that’s learning from the experiences of others.

The discussion I mean started in the middle of another thread, when Clay Dreslough asked about Pair Programming.

But I have never had any success with actual Pair Programming.

So … am I missing a key component of XP? Or have other people found the same reticence with adopting Pair Programming?

Are there some valuable gains here that I’m missing? And if so, how would you recommend getting programmers to change their habits? (Continued)

Pair Programming techniques

Pair programming has been widely touted as a effective means of generating excellent code in a cost-effective manner. It has also been widely reported as a waste of time or as uncomfortable. Many people reject pair programming without trying it. Others, however, still don’t like it after being forced to use trying it.

I’m convinced that there’s an art and a science to pair programming. I don’t think it comes naturally to most people. It’s sometimes easy to pick up by osmosis, but I’ve heard too many complaints about pairing to think that’s a common occurrence. I’d like to hear your real-life stories about pair-programming situations. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your story as a comment on this blog, send them to “pairprogramming at”. (Continued)