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technical debt

Tended 1 year ago (2 times) Planted 3 years ago Mentioned 3 times


A well-worn metaphor for the temporal costs of technical decisions. When a technical decision no longer serves the team, they can choose to address it up front (“pay the debt off”) or pay an ongoing percentage of their time working around it (“carry the debt”). Technical debt may be introduced:

  • intentionally, e.g. choosing a fix a bug in the quickest possible way in order to restore service, with a plan to return and fix it in a more lasting way, or
  • accidentally, e.g. getting to shameless green and stopping without making the code more ergonomic, with no plan to do so in the future.


  • Research by Stripe has found that engineers spend approximately 33% of their time dealing with technical debt (to the tune of $85 billion across the industry). So the question is not whether to address tech debt, but whether to address it strategically or ad-hoc, since it’s costing your team’s time regardless.

  • And research by Gartner (“Application Modernization Should Be Business-Centric, Continuous and Multiplatform”) predicts that

    through 2023, I&O [Infrastructure & Operations] leaders that actively manage and reduce technical debt will achieve at least 50% faster service delivery times to the business.


  • engineering excellence

    …about being perfect, but constantly improving, e.g. [[kaizen]] - addressing [[technical debt]] at the right time - adhering to good [[API design]] - keeping…

  • Limits to Growth

    …the team seemed to accelerate progress. But as communication overhead, [[technical debt]], and other costs of complexity (constraints) begin to accrue, progress…

  • the iceberg model of systems

    …and physical barriers. For instance, you might point out that [[technical debt]] is accumulating at an unsustainable rate and even get others…