21 September 2013

Journeyman Tour is hard work

Coat, Man's, Field w HoodThe post about my second week is ready since some days but I am waiting for it to be reviewed by the company I visited. In the meantime let me tell you about some other aspect of my Journeyman tour.

At the beginning of the third week I drove to the country-side to pair with an old friend. While driving, I used the time to reflect about my tour. The quiet activity of driving seemed to support reflection. At some point I stopped to take notes so I would not forget, something that Corey called Road Thoughts. Corey recorded several of them during his tour as he drove around all the time.

Preparation takes time
A Journeyman tour might be seen as a funny or exciting undertaking, which it certainly is, but most of all, it is hard work. It started with the preparations, which were time consuming. Over three months I spent considerable effort in contacting people, promoting my tour, and finally finding individuals who would host me. I regularly spent two hours on emails, usually after regular work in the evening. Because I wanted to do my tour in Vienna, and because Software Craftsmanship is not widely known there, I needed to explain the tour, my motivation and potential benefits to future hosts and their managers again and again. (I will discuss how to sell such a Pair Programming Tour to management in a later post.) I roughly spent a man-month (160 hours) on preparations and discussions to find 20 to 25 hosts who would host me for a total of three months.

Hard workI never worked that hard
Facing a new project every three days is exhausting. There is no time to get used to it and obviously I want to be productive as soon as possible. New projects with new technologies in new domains are not a problem by themselves, but the cognitive load is extreme. There are many things I learn every hour and I constantly need to do things I never did before. I assume digesting this new knowledge comes "with a cost" - I am very tired in the evenings. I work with my hosts from morning to evening, usually seven to eight hours and after work we might add a retrospective or discuss some geek issues while drinking beer. Surely I overdid my tour by attending as many user group meetings as possible to promote the idea of Pair Programming Tour.

Pairing is intense
I try to pair 100% with my host. Even when Nik had to write a technical mail regarding Dart build issues, or when Florian had to create a cash flow spreadsheet for an upcoming project, we worked together. Pair programming is more demanding than regular work. There are no distractions, no mails or Twitter, because we are working on something. We keep each other focused all the time (and sometimes skip breaks or forget to drink which is a bad thing). This work is intense all day, five days a week.

Under pressurePersonal Pressure
The uncertainty of a new host, paired with possible expectations they might have, make me uneasy. What is my host really expecting? Will I fail? Will I look stupid? I know that there is no failing, still the thoughts of doubt are here. I feel the need to get something done, to deliver some value. This is my personal commitment for my host. On some occasions it caused me to take short-cuts during pair development, which I had never taken before and should not have taken at all.

Sharing needs time as well
Finally I want to blog about my tour. Summarizing what happened during the week is important to reflect on the things I learned. I found many things I need to share with future Journeyman, observations about our craft and other fascinating topics. Also people keep asking me about my tour. I initially planned to write blog posts twice a week, one diary and one about some discovery I made. I am a slow writer and I am two posts behind schedule already. But I promised Corey Haines himself that I would write about my tour. He is watching me, and these posts will be written ;-)

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