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Organizational Debt or Ignorance

 Jan 28, 2008  |   Filed under: Business  |   Tags: Agile, Business, Organization, Theory

Welcome back, it’s 2008, the weather sucks and I’m more bitter then ever. I will try to blog in a smaller scale at least once a month during 2008 and I’m starting the year with slapping all my superiors, past and present, on the wrist.

OstridgeI love the analogy of Technical Debt, it is the perfect way to describe to Mr Manager why hacking is a bad idea.

"You see here Mr Manager if we do this hack here for your trade show we accumulate debt which we will have to pay later. If we don't pay, it creates interest and in the end we will only be working on paying interest and you wont get any new features."

Mr Manager is usually very susceptible to this explanation and either refrains from the hack or gives you time to fix it afterwards; because we don't want to generate interest, do we.

However I have noticed that the debt analogy also works for organizational problems. But when it comes to organizational problems managers aren’t susceptible in the same way. My theory is that they are not really fond of you peeing in their park. After all “I r code monkey”, they are manager.

Larger organizational problems are usually solved with the, all too efficient, "head-in-the-sand" pattern and once the shit hits the fan, we never saw it coming. With their head firmly planted in the sand the managers don’t hear the developers blowing whistles and the organizational debt grows out of proportion to where we end up using most of our time on organizational issues instead of programming.

What I’m trying to say is that most companies these days don’t hack their applications why do they hack their organization?

Which is more valuable, an application which will last 5 years or an organization which will last forever?

So Mr Manager, when your organization is sick fix the problem not the symptoms, it will cost you later.