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Who have you paired with?

At one of our regular retrospectives a few iterations back, the team decided that we had a bad habit of not rotating our pairs enough. More specifically, we tended to pair with the same few people for all of our tasks. That meant we could improve the sharing our knowledge to other team member.

Perryn Fowler was charged with trying to rectify the situation, and he drew this chart up on a whiteboard shortly afterwards:

The idea here is that you put a mark in the square that intersects your initials and your pairs. We didn't enforce any rules other than that. Instead, we just let people come to the realisation that they were filling in some squares a lot, and others not so much.


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The "Who have you paired with?" chart is _not_ symmetric, and it should be.

Good observation. Team members are responsible for updating the row with their initials on it. Lack of symmetry means that their partner failed to update the board. We found it a useful redundancy check.

Such a non-symmetric chart can be also used in another way.

If some person is responsible for specific task, pairing means helping by someone else to solve the problem. The mark is put in the row belonging to person responsible for the task. The "mark" may also be a number (e.g. of hours) or multiple dots can be put. After some amount of time it becomes visible who is helpful, and who often needs help, etc.

I've tried for a while, but too short for any conclusion. What do you think about it?

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