Is organizational debt bankrupting your productivity?

Whenever you are evaluating your processes and determining if something needs to be changed, ask yourself, “if I was starting up a new company from scratch, is this how I would do this?” If the answer is “No”. Fix it before doing anything else.

In software development we have a concept called “technical debt”. Technical debt is the accumulation of compromised code, quick fixes, Band-Aids and other rushed approaches to software development that have been made in the spirit of “getting it done.” Just like in finance, the deeper in debt you become, the worse the situation. When you begin to work on new code, you are strapped with not only the task of solving your new problem but you must deal with the technical debt inherited from your previously rushed decisions. Technical debt compounds with interest as systems grow and functionality is added. This is why many technology groups and product developers find themselves with systems that feel clunky, buggy or unstable. A common symptom of technical is every time you make a change, something else breaks. The only way to alleviate technical debt is to slowly pay it down just like you would any other debt.

This is true in business as well. If you are skipping important steps, ignoring opportunities for efficiency and making other compromises in the name of “getting it done”, things are guaranteed to get worse. Your debt level is going to consistently rise. Its like paying one credit card off using another. Every company experiences this debt. It is a natural by-product of success and moving the business forward. You need to give it the adequate attention and resources to keep your debt at a reasonable level.

Begin making the investment now to pay down your process debt before it bankrupts your workflow. Build improvement into your projects so that improvement is a part of your daily operations, rather than something else you have to do.