In his Agile2016 session “The Technical Debt Trap”, Doc Norton takes all the way back to the metaphor that started it all. Doc says Ward Cunningham coined the term “technical debt” not as shorthand for lousy code but for clean code implemented with your current understanding of the requirements and covered with tests. In short, “technical debt” isn’t code that you intend to clean up later: it’s clean code created when the dev’s knowledge is impartial that the dev can then easily refactor when they learn more about the problem. The danger with the current meaning of technical debt is that the term is benign enough that we don’t give it enough attention. “In a great extent, we’re using the metaphor to abdicate our own professional responsibility…” Things that teams can start doing now: create debt stories and discuss with the business what the real value of that debt is.
John Esposito, Editor-in-Chief of DZone, SolutionsIQ partner, hosts at Agile2016 in Atlanta, GA.