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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Sep 27, 2019

Today’s guest is Chris Lucian, the Director of Software Development at Hunter Industries and co-founder of the mob programming movement! Chris is passionate about the advancement of software craftsmanship and machine learning. He seeks the continuous improvement of himself, his family, his company, and his community. He believes that we can explore the unexplored potential in all things when looking at our processes with automation and creativity in mind.


In this week’s episode, Chris joins Dan to discuss mob programming. He shares the origin story behind mob programming, what it is and how it is utilized and dispells some of the general misconceptions around it. Chris also highlights many of the key benefits of mob programming and explains some of the best practices!


Key Takeaways

Key takeaways from the origin story behind mob programming:

After getting hired into an organization he was shocked by how everybody was working separately in cubicles and soon developed mob programming

After implementing mob programming, their quality went through the roof and their cycle time went from a year and a half to twice a day and they stopped getting bug reports from production

What is mob programming?

A software development approach where the whole team works on the same thing, at the same time, in the same space, and at the same computer

This approach relies on face-to-face and side-by-side communication, team alignment, collaboration, and whole team involvement

What are coding katas?

The intentional practice of your coding craft

Practicing together by writing code through games such as the Tic Tac Toe Game and the Bowling Game (linked below)

Helps to build a habit or reflex out of coding

Misconceptions around mob programming:

When multiple people are working on a single piece workflow it will cost more for the company

It is a waste of time to implement for the ‘simple stuff’

The benefits of mob programming:

Paired programming helps mitigate risk from siloing and provides an increase in quality

High-bandwidth learning

The code moves all the time

Really optimized for flow efficiency with less time being spent on waste activities like bug fixes

Removing impediments becomes really fast

A higher consciousness of experiments on the team to run about how to make things better and faster

Mobbing on the simple stuff incentivizes programmers to make all that simple stuff go away permanently

Physical cost-wise, four cubicles costs more than a single mobbing station with a high-end computer and two 80” screens

Standup meetings become eliminated because the team is already aligned

Group consciousness is constantly being developed

Psychological safety and feedback becomes necessary through mob programming (which are critical components to a successful team)

The codebase keeps moving forward and nothing gets in its way

Mob programming best practices:

Dedicated learning time

Do frequent retrospectives

Don’t just ‘try’ something; frame it as an experiment (regardless of the outcome, it provides invaluable learning)


Mentioned in this Episode:

Chris Lucian

Hunter Industries

Mob Programming

Agile Manifesto

Woody Zuill

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 28: “Misconceptions and Interpretations of ‘The Agile Manifesto’ with Arie van Bennekum”

Mob Mentality Show (Youtube Channel)

Tic-Tac-Toe Kata Game

Bowling Game Kata

Twitter @ChristophLucian

Google Study on the Top 5 Traits of Successful Teams

Conway’s Law

Companies that are Mob Programming

Mob Programming RPG by Willem Larson

Trello Board — Software Profession Resources

Harvesting Mob Programming Patterns (A publication taking a look at the mob programming patterns discovered by IBM and LendingHome)

Scrum Gathering Tokyo 2019: “Learning to Experiment” (Chris’ Keynote) 

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 5: “Exploring an Experimental Mindset with Adam Ulery”

Linda Rising


Chris Lucian’s Book Pick:

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman


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