Mob Programming and the Power of Flow
"How can you possibly be productive with 5 people working at one computer?"
This is frequently the first question someone will ask when they first hear about Mob Programming. With Mob Programming 4 or 5 or more people work together at one computer to create software. It seems preposterous, but it's worked well for us, and for many teams. But how can this possibly work?!
Well… I don't propose that I know the answer, but I have a few ideas - and one of the most compelling to me is the idea of flow. There are several common uses of the word, and in software development we hear people talk about being "in the zone", where there is an intense focus that leads to a highly productive state where the sense of time disappears and we experience a sense of ecstasy and clarity.
But there is another use of the work "flow" in the world of Lean Manufacturing and Lean Product Development. In this context by flow we mean the direct completion of work from start to finish with as little wasted time and inventory as possible.
I'll attempt to show how these two seemingly unrelated types of flow come into play when we work as a Mob Programming team.
Preposterous? Perhaps, but it's worth considering the possibilities.