The Code Fairy - solutions/ideas

Mark Needham posted about a behavior pattern he has observed and labeled "The Code Fairy".  The concept is writing code in off hours (without your pair) when your programming pair didn't want to go along with your changes.

Being a fully pair programmed shop, we come across issues like this a lot.  Typically the solution is to compromise and find the middle ground.  However, this can be difficult if the views are radically different.

Some possible solutions:

  • Agree to write a small piece of the code on your own later and present it on your next pairing session as a patch.  This will take good soft skills though since you may be even more defensive of your approach once you have written code and your pair may start feeling forced into the idea.
  • Find the smallest possible compromise.  If a pair can't compromise at all, then you have bigger problems.  Remember that each person on the pair has to concede on some things else there is no give and take.  The trick is to concede where it is not detrimental - either way, someone will learn something.
  • Mark's mentions the idea of being able to convince someone.  In the business community, it is often recommended to start a business with a partner since if you can't convince one other person of an idea then it probably isn't worth doing.  This holds true in pairing - if you can't convince someone, why not?  Is the idea flawed? Are you conveying it poorly or is the person not compromising at all?

Pairing is a learning experience and sometimes you learn through debate, other times you learn by doing.  Sometimes you have to fail to learn - just make them small failures. :)


Jonathan Cogley is the CEO of Thycotic Software, an agile software consulting and product development company based in Washington DC.  Secret Server is our flagship enterprise password management product.

No Comments