Do you have remote access to developers? Remote pairing and mobbing is working well, too. Could you share the idea and ask them if they’d like to give it a try? You could frame it as an experiment with a desired outcome in mind, for example to build quality into the product earlier in the process, to improve shared understanding, anything. Just make it measurable so you can evaluate it in the end. If the experiment succeeded, awesome! If it didn’t, you all learned what did not work in your context. And maybe by doing so you come across another idea to try out next on your journey of finding out how to work better together. In the case of my product team we wanted to extend our toolbox of development approaches. Mobbing was an experiment that not everyone was convinced of, yet we all decided to give it a try for a few times and see for ourselves if it helped us. What would be lost? Now, if the first person or group is not willing to give it a try - why not find another one and try it with them to gain experience and learn.
In any case, I relate to this question. For a long time, I was scared of showing what I don’t know, that people see my weaknesses - and I feared that pairing or mobbing would expose them. In the end, however, I was too intrigued by the idea and was eager to try it - and only then discovered the benefits for me personally. There might be other people with similar or different fears.
Interestingly, mobbing was less threatening for my own team compared to pairing. As soon as we all discovered the benefits, we started to pair a lot more as well. Often, I hear pairing to be the step before mobbing, yet for us it happened the other way around. The mob provided the safe space we needed to pair up as well.
What helped me personally, was if my pair or people on the mob showed their vulnerabilities. Shared what they don’t know. This made it a lot safer and easier for me to do the same. Nowadays I try this myself by opening up first, trying to provide a safe space for the other one(s). It makes such a difference.
When facilitating pairs or mobs, I call out a safe space in advance, as we have to feel safe to learn with each other. It’s important how we treat each other. Kindness, consideration and respect are the often-shared ground rules for a mob (shout-out to Maaret Pyhäjärvi and her wonderful “Mob Programming Guidebook”!). Listening to each other. Building on each other’s ideas. Trying things out instead of instantly rejecting them. Sometimes making things explicit and setting expectations is all that’s needed.
An important point is that I did not force anyone into a pair or mob. If they are not willing to give it a real try, leave them out and only do it with the people who want to. Make it fun so they might want to join in next time, as I learned from Maaret as well. We also cannot force anyone to stay - they can join again any time if they choose to. Can’t force them into a collaboration style they don’t approve, either; like strong-style pairing, which is my personally preferred way yet not everyone else’s.