Tech debt, the specter looming over every product team. It hobbles features, stresses developers, and frustrates customers. Everyone on the team is aware of it. Team members mention it in every retro, post mortem, and product quality review. Yet, it persists. Tech debt feels inevitable and immortal, a presence your team cannot escape.
But despite its bad rap, tech debt can actually be a good thing...when it’s managed well. As Sandi Metz says, “If it makes you feel any better, there's a way in which having a big mess is a sign of success. The reason your competitors don't have messes is that they went out of business. You won, and your prize is an application that betrays the ravages of time.” Tech debt comes from learning and growing. It will always be here; our goal isn’t to eliminate it but to tame it.
Learning to accept tech debt requires taking an honest look at your product’s needs and capabilities. But be careful here — it's easy to succumb to recency bias and over-index on the pain your team experienced in the last couple of sprints. Ultimately, the goal is to make it easier to forge new paths, not to retread old ground.