Mind your metaphors
Metaphors are very powerful. They help us to explain concepts that might otherwise be inexplicable. Pick an unsuitable metaphor, however, and you’ll find that you have failed to communicate. I read this post from Nick Malik and it chimed with something I had been thinking about the term technical debt.
I’ve encountered the use of the term technical debt increasingly frequently over the last few months. And I think it might be a poor choice of metaphor. Here’s why. Those using the term are trying to say that if we do x now, we’ll have to do more work in the long run. But the people who are hearing this metaphor are used to incurring debt – at a personal level, many of us take out mortgages to but houses rather than wait until we have enough capital. The business world understands and uses debt to its advantage. So, this means that the person listening may hear a choice: expensive and slow versus fast and cheap (in the short term – the long term success can be used to service the technical debt incurred.) Which option do you think they’ll pick?