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Session: Truth and Reconciliation: Agile Lessons from The Rainbow Nation

Wednesday, 16:40 - 17:30
Track: Collaboration

My thinking was formed under apartheid law in South Africa. I was born a second class citizen and suddenly, I was not. I had rights, but I also carried hatred. How can I trust, when I was assassinated so many times? Truth and reconciliation healed a nation, and laid a foundation for collaboration. Now I see it again: how can you be agile when managers and developers don't trust each other.  It's time for agile truth and reconciliation commission; to apply personal lessons of transformation.

However, bootstrapping an agile team, while eroding distrust is not trivial.  In this seminar we apply the lessons I learnt from living in South Africa as it transitioned peacefully from a divided society under apartheid to a democratic nation of interwoven cultures.  We explore the Zulu philosophy of Ubuntu, and apply it to software development, showing how it positively influences team agility, coding style, attitude and quality of code.

Code quality without human quality creates diminishing value, for the software and for humanity.  This is one of the "97 Things that Every Software Developer Should Know".  In this book, the chapter "Ubuntu Coding for Your Friends" is a brief excursion into this attitude.  It's lot more than that, it's about honoring the most overlooked area of the Agile Manifesto: people over processes, using hard lessons from a highly volatile flashpoint in history, explained by a person who lived through it personally.


Familiarity with agile concepts is useful but not necessary


- understand and apply the philosophy of Ubuntu to software teams, - manage the conflict of distrust between management and development teams, - balance quality of code with quality of life

Aslam Khan

Aslam Khan is a software architect at factor10 with more than 18 years experience. He has a particular passion for tackling complex problems and with the belief that simplicity is a choice that generates creativity. He is pragmatist that considers the only truthful implementation of an architecture is the code that gets executed. Aslam spends his time empowering teams with techniques that will allow them to design and build better software. You can read his blog at


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