How to start facilitating mobbing

Here lies some points on how I started out with mob-testing and mob-programming facilitation. I want to trigger you to try mobbing.

Quickly, what is this mobbing thing? A group of people working together using one computer. Imagine: anything that happens to the application, code is seen and understood by everyone, on the spot. With a setup in which people are divided into different roles: one has to execute (driver), one has the final word on what’s being done (navigator), while the rest are brainstorming (mob-members). Sounds interesting? Read more here: 1, 2 or watch a timelapse video.


With this post though, I assume you have at least heard about mobbing.

Take these points in no particular order. Use them at your own risk.

1. Participate in one

For me it all started by participating in mob-testing sessions (1, 2). No explanation beats a real-life, hands-on experience that puts something in your reality. You will no longer wonder if it’s possible. You will have it in front your eyes and feel it on your own skin. You will have even your unasked questions answered. Try to get into one!

2. Look up the more experienced

To experience a session live is not necessary to take action. A colleague of mine read some of the description of the setup and process (1) and organized a mob-programming session at the branch (from the things I’ve heard it was chaotic and confusing for most, but that’s besides my point – with followup sessions and reflection you will get rid of the teethers).

3. Ask the more experienced

To my best knowledge the leading figures of mobbing are Woody, Mareet and Llewellyn. After I looked some of their work up, I e-mailed Mareet and Llewellyn asking all sorts of questions. They answered in great length and were genuinely interested in my experience. I can not speak for them, but I think they will let you pick their mind, too.

4.  Get someone else to do it for you

We all have collegaues who do unknown things without a faint of a heart. You could ask them to go through some theory, watch a video and while you could participate, they could facilitate. For me public speaking and facilitation is\was a massive out-of-comfortzone experience, if it’s the same for you, this could be an idea.

5. Imagine what other people would ask – and try to answer it.

This is important for preparation, to be able to “sell it”. When you announce or just casually tell others about your idea, people will be not interested or attack it. They are really protective of their valuable work-hours (and that’s good). There is no other way around it, but be convincing enough. Be prepared with good answers and let your enthusiasm shine through. I found the timelapse video to be a good tool to help people picturing what’s going to happen.

In a few session I’ve seen some ups and downs of mobbing, but that’s for an other day (post). Try mobbing this month and tell us how it went!


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