Elevator Pitch

Extreme programming can transform even the most bureaucratic organizations. Matt Kleiman has spent 2 years enabling the US Military to build lean products. Matt thrives on these agile teams despite having ADHD. In fact, his neurodiversity is an asset in these collaborative, high-stakes environments.


For years Matt Kleiman’s Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and other learning disabilities deterred his success on traditional software development teams. Working alone, on globally distributed teams, and on amorphous tasks, Matt found himself struggling to meet the expectations of a software engineer. In an endless showdown against distractions, Matt almost gave up on his career.

This is the story of how Pivotal Labs’ Extreme Programming practices not only have the ability to transform bloated, slow-moving enterprise software development teams but also have the power to promote inclusive and neurodiverse groups of software engineers. Matt’s journey to find a workplace that nourishes his strengths has taught him the value of bringing neuroatypical individuals together to form teams that benefit from broad and divergent thinking.


Outline/Structure of the Talk


I use the story arc of my life and career in order to share a message that we should all be seeking work environments that nourish our strengths. I share the extreme challenges I faced as a developer with ADD and learning disabilities before I discovered Extreme Programming practices, like pair programming and TDD, helped me be a productive member of a team. I talk about how neurodiversity helps teams be more efficient and creative in building software. I transition back and forth between older ways of building software (i.e. waterfall) and Agile in order to contrast for the audience the need to improve how we respond to a changing landscape. I share exciting stories from my work transforming the software development ability of the US Air Force, contrasting their failed billion dollar waterfall system to the scrappy agile shop we have helped them build in-house. Throughout the talk, I go in-depth into some of the core practices of Extreme Programming, such as Pair Programming, Test Driven Development, and Empathy.

Learning Outcome

Key Takeaways

- Agile teams that are more diverse in their thinking perform best in today's changing world of software development

- We should all seek out work environments that nourish our strengths

- Everyone has unique ways of thinking and learning. Empathize with this, lean in to your peer's differences and create amazing, healthy, diverse teams.

- I'll talk at a high level but with passion about TDD and Pair Programming. Audience members have told me this talk has led them to investigate these practices further and try something new in their work or personal time.

Target Audience

Everyone. Targeting Product Managers, Designers, Engineers, as well as team Directors

Prerequisites for Attendees

No prerequisites needed



schedule Submitted 1 year ago