When Constantin Jaeck and Dietmar Mühmert work on solutions, they do it together. They develop software products for Volkswagen dealers: a development that takes time – and that runs more efficiently when the software developers tackle it together. As one of three “pair programming” duos, they work in the Volkswagen Digital Lab in Berlin, one of the automotive company’s future forges. For this they cast complex IT solutions in high-quality code. Jaeck and Mühmert are currently building an application that will become a sales platform for VW dealers.
The pace of work is fast. The developers work several hours together on the project every day. You are part of a team of six developers at Volkswagen, each of whom works in pairs. The duos are reassembled every two days. “We play balls to each other and at the same time we advance the project,” says Dietmar Mühmert. Constantin Jaeck adds: “Good software is created through dialogue, the pair provides immediate feedback”. The advantage is not just the four-eyes principle for checking. “It’s the project knowledge that each of us has – but also the common thinking. We challenge each other to write better code. “
“Pair Programming “at VW: IT development in a team of two
IT experts from Volkswagen have been working in “pair programming”, an agile way of working from Silicon Valley, since 2015, for example in Volkswagen’s software development centers in Barcelona and Lisbon. The Berlin DigitalLab is also part of this global network of VW competence centers for future digital topics. New dynamic forms of cooperation are normal here.
“Even with complex software products, this enables us to rotate teams and provide high software quality based on continuous knowledge transfer,” says Jochen Scherl, Office Lead of the Digital Lab at VW.
“The challenge in recruiting is to find the right fit: The two-person teams work closely together. Your success lies in the accuracy of fit and in the addition of your characteristics. ”In the recruitment process, the professional skills of the applicants and the“ team fit ”are compared.
IT pioneer? Studies show more self-confidence through working in a team of two
Is working as a duo only so effective in IT? Or are they generally more efficient? “Forming teams of two is not yet a ‘deal breaker'”, says Jens Brandt, Professor of Organizational Psychology at the ISM International School of Management in Frankfurt am Main. “Teams can be too small, which means that those involved are overwhelmed, but also too big, which usually leads to a loss of motivation and coordination. Studies show that. The type of work is also central. ”Duos can, however, support one another particularly effectively. “At least loss of coordination will probably occur the least here,” says Brandt.
So far, research has hardly known about “pairing”. “Here, teams with more than two members are usually considered,” says work psychologist Simone Kauffeld from the TU Braunschweig. But there are interesting studies about teams of two: For example, in 2014 US researchers assigned prospective engineers to a role in teams of two. “One of the two did the active work, the other mainly structural aspects of the collaboration,” says Simone Kauffeld.
“These roles changed in the course of the collaboration, and decisions were always made together. The conclusion: Couples worked with more self-confidence and were more satisfied with the cooperation than everyone else – and said they had learned from each other. ”Other researchers found in 2020 that working in a team of two could increase self-confidence, says Kauffeld.
“Good developers are not solo pianists”
If you want to be successful as a duo, you need one thing above all: lots of exchange. “In stable teams of two, the work commitment is transferred from one person to the other – but only with intensive communication,” says Jens Brandt, referring to a study from 2009.
In fact, “pair programming” would not be possible without intensive dialogue. “Good developers in pair programming are communicative, not solo pianists,” says developer Dietmar Mühmert from Volkswagen. He knows programming on his own and wouldn’t want to work like that anymore today. “We can do more as a duo.”
“At the university we also try to often form tandems that support each other,” says work psychologist Kauffeld. “This can be done on a cognitive level in the sense of suggestions or ideas. Working life situations can be interpreted together, joys and sorrows can be shared. ”Strong connections strengthen self-confidence.
Apparently gender also plays a role, says Jens Brandt. “In a study we found that men in a one-man office show a higher level of work commitment, whereas women in a two-person office.” A finding that could spark interesting discussions.