When I Need to Not Pair

So, a friend asked me to say more about "not pairing". As so often, it triggered me to muse.

Sometimes I need to not pair.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love pairing. I love it for three reasons.

  1. It makes me a better geek. That is, I learn from pairing.
  2. Pairing makes two geeks more productive than if they solo’d. That is a pair writes mo’ better code than two solos.

But there are times when I need to not pair. What are those times like?

Well, first thing is, they tend to be less than an hour of keyboard time.

Then there seems to be something about the circumference of me and my pair’s mutual experience. What I mean is that the problem, a coding or debugging problem, is right out at the boundary of anything either one of us have experienced.

The third thing is that it usually involves a situation where we’ve exhausted all the "dumb ideas" about how to proceed.

The fourth is that it usually involves me wanting to pursue a lengthy, i.e. >5 minute experiment. That is, I need to drive for more than 5 minutes in a single focused direction to come up with a next effort. That driving might be code, it might be surfing, it might be in the debugger, but by pairing standards it will be a long drive.

And finally, it never happens unless i’m also feeling personally frustrated with our progress.

So that’s my muse. Sometimes I need to not pair for up to an hour. I tell my pair. We split up and rendezvous later.

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