Last week, my CTO explained to me and a group of people that his focus for the next few weeks was on our ‘technological debt’. I’d never heard the term before, and by the puzzled looks on everyone else’s faces around the table, I assume I wasn’t the only one. Fortunately our CTO is a perceptive person, so he understood what our quizzical expressions meant and explained further.
Technical debt is a concept that developers use to describe the extra work that comes with taking shortcuts. You’ll cut some corners, forgo documenting things, fulling know that this is all going to catch up with you sooner rather than later. At one point you’ll have to pause and reflect, retrace your steps, and settle that debt – which usually takes more energy than doing it right the first time.
Such is life, and not just for a developer.
Your unread emails keep building up, and you’re accumulating social debt every time you ignore those Facebook messages.
You also accumulate debt with your partner when you spend another evening at the office instead of at the movies together, because you really want to finish that one project.
With all our flaws it’s amazing us humans get anything done. We procrastinate, we drag our feet, we delay what should’ve been done today, and we constantly build up our technical, social and organizational debt.
I’m even more aware of this as I return to my neglected duties I ignored to focus solely on our conference. As a grown man, the one thing that scares me right now is looking at my inbox or todo list.
What debt have you been stockpiling?