What is going right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 4)

I have been so busy with the teaching job that I have not had time to dedicate to this blog. Hopefully the teaching gets easier and cools down soon. It should now that the semester is just about done and there is not too much left in lesson plan prep.

But enough about me, here is What is going right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 4). I will give a short explanation on the two benefits below highlighting the great parts of Mob Programming. Check out the other parts of the series for even more benefits of mob programming and expect more posts in the future.

  • Divide and Conquer
  • Accountability

Divide and Conquer

I am on a small three person mob working with a technology that none of us have had prior experience in outside of our current project. This means we run into situations that no one knows the answer to. How do we solve these complex problems? Well rather than squander around the code all together often we take a Divide and Conquer approach.

By divide and conquer, I mean that we will all split up and begin researching/attempting solutions/poking around the code all on our own. This may sound a lot more like traditional programming where everyone is by themselves working through problems and it kind of is.

The mob programming aspect comes into play whenever anyone finds a good example/article/forum post related to our issue. We share the findings and discuss them together immediately. Maybe the new knowledge helps connect the dots with what someone else was already reading or thinking about. Maybe the team decides that it does not relate, so we do not waste anymore time looking at it.

We take a divide and conquer approach but share all the knowledge along the way and get more research done while still keeping everyone informed.


In software, it can be easy to take the easy path instead of the harder but infinitely better path. When writing software you may think “Oh this will not be my problem in the future” or “I don’t need to test this feature it will never break”.

In my mob we hold each other accountable and ensure that we are not skimping just to make things easier for ourselves. I will relate this to testing because its an easy target. We test EVERYTHING. No matter how small we make sure to right a test first. Sometimes one of use will get an inkling that maybe we can skip the test on this one. Or we just straight up forget to write the test.

Having the mob, we always have someone to reign us all back in and remind us of the software practices we need in order to maintain quality. As a mob we are all accountable for one another and we use this to ensure we are always writing the best software.

That concludes What is Going Right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 3), check out the other posts in the series.

What is going right: Mob Programming (Part 3)

What is going right: Mob Programming (Part 2)

What is going right: Mob Programming (Part 1)

What is going right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 3)

Here is What is going right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 3). I will give a short explanation on the two benefits below. Check out the other parts of the series for even more benefits of mob programming.

  1. Temporarily joining another mob
  2. Redundant knowledge

Temporarily joining another mob

Yesterday I found myself alone at my mobbing station. We are not allowed to write production software without at least one other person mobbing with us. So, I rolled my chair over to the closest mob got my name in the rotation and began mobbing with them.

The mob I joined was in a language I have very little experience with and a technology stack I have even less experience with. But I was able to follow along and contributed what I could.

I was mob programming with the team for roughly 45 minutes before we broke out for lunch. During this time I was absorbed into the new mob. It was an easy transition into the other mob. It did not cause disruption in the flow of the mob. And I got to learn more about the technology our teams are using.

Mob programming let me join an entirely different team and share my skills even if just for a short period of time.

Redundant Knowledge

When you have a group of 3 or more people all working on the same project at the same time together knowledge is going to be spread. Mob programming reduces knowledge silos essentially to zero. If someone is already very knowledgeable on a subject while the rest are not, the knowledgeable member navigates the others so the knowledge can be shared. Knowledge silos do not last long if they exist at all.

A second major benefit of redundant knowledge is that members can leave. For something as common as getting coffee or water, when a member leaves, the code is still moving forward. And even more importantly if a member goes on vacation all the code keeps on going. We do not run into roadblocks because of the redundant knowledge.

Redundant knowledge means 100% participation by every member of the mob at all times is not necessary. People can come and go as they please without worry.


That concludes What is Going Right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 3), check out the other posts in the series

What is going right: Mob Programming (Part 2)

What is going right: Mob Programming (Part 1)

What is going right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 2)

I have been in the mob for over a year and have more aspects of mob programming that I would like to share. Let’s jump right into What is going right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 2).

  1. Idea Generation & Development
  2. Efficient use of time

Idea Generation & Development

Mob programming promotes the generation and development of ideas. You have multiple team members to bounce your ideas off of in order to come up the best solution. You do not need to come up with entire solutions on your own or have a fully thought out idea.

I have found myself presenting a half-baked idea, knowing that with the help of my team members we can work the idea into something real. It is a great feeling to be able to present just half of an idea and get input from the team on how to build it out to fruition.

This also helps in the opposite direction. If I present an idea not fully thought out and a team member can point out the flaws; I do not have to waste any more time trying to build the idea when in the end it would not even work anyway.

It is hard trying to take an abstract concept in your head and code it up into a full solution all on your own. But with mob programming, you have the help of your team the whole way.

Efficient Use of Time

Mob programming makes efficient use of the developers time. My mob only has one, yes ONE, regularly scheduled meeting a week. And even better only one mob member has to attend so the three of us on my mob rotate. I go to one regularly scheduled meeting every 3 weeks.

The rest of my time is spent coding. If my mob decides we should discuss a topic more in depth before jumping into code we do not schedule a meeting and find a conference room away from our computer to discuss.  We simply swivel our chairs to the whiteboard or just start talking.

On a good mob, impromptu discussion just happens when it needs to. If the code is flowing fast then no need to discuss, if we are up against a challenge start discussing.

Mob programming lets you focus on the code, which is exactly what every developer wants to do!


Stay tuned for more What is going right: Mob Programming posts. If you have not read part 1 check it out here What is going right: Mob Programming (Part 1)

What is going right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 1)

I want to call this blog post What is going right: Mob Programming Benefits (Part 1) because I know there are and will be more things going right because of Mob Programming. As of right now, I have been mob programming for just under a year. So for part one, I wanted to explain two of the major factors that are going right in mob programming.

  1. Idea sharing leading to learning
  2. Building strong teams

There is so much more that comes with mob programming, but I want to stick to just two for now. I plan to expand this list greatly but just want short and sweet post for now.

Idea sharing leading to learning

If you are not learning, you are falling behind. Learning should never be undervalued.

With mob programming, you are learning daily. You have the brains of 3, 4, 5 or more developers all being shared. Woody Zuill’s one sentence explanation of mob programming describes the learning perfectly, “All the brilliant people working on the same thing, at the same time, in the same space, and on the same computer.”

All the brilliant minds are developing ideas, they are sharing those ideas with everyone. Even if an idea is not entirely thought out it is shared. With all the other skilled developers around you, something great can be built out of your idea. Sharing ideas to boost learning is one of the biggest things going right with mob programming.

A great feeling I have gotten many times while mob programming has been stating an idea to a solution I had that did not solve the whole solution but only part. As soon as I described the idea to the team other members jumped in being able to solve the pieces I had struggled to solve. I learned how to solve the full solution by presenting my partial idea.

Sharing ideas to boost learning is one of the biggest things going right with mob programming.

Building  Strong Teams

I have had some of the strongest and most cohesive work teams due to mob programming. The idea of working with the same people 8 hours a day every day may scare some people. But the safe environment we create at work where ideas, even bad ones, are accepted and thoroughly thought through makes a good team.

By spending so much time with the same people, I learned a lot about them. I was able to learn what specialties they have so I knew where I could get specific knowledge if needed. I have even able to pick up on the idiosyncrasies of individuals, so I knew when the right time to coerce ideas out of them in a safe way was or when to be quiet and let them process ideas in their own head.

Spending so much time with everyone on a team built strong work and even personal relationships. We easily learned about each other and with each other. I know I was nervous in the beginning about spending day after day working with together in a team, but it really has been an amazing experience so far that I look forward to every day.


Stay tuned for more short “What is going right” posts.