Scrum Agile Project Management

Organizational Debt

Technical debt is a well-known concept in Agile software development. Technical Debt is defined as the eventual consequences of poor or evolving software architecture and software development within a codebase. In this blog post, Steve Blank discusses the concept of organizational debt.

He defines organizational debt as “all the people/culture compromises made to “just get it done” in the early stages of a startup.” He explains how companies need to recognize and refactor organizational debt. He gives the example of a growing startup that had no plans to retain early employees and train new one when it was facing a thought scaling challenge. Scaling the organization also imply that there could be a change in the current communication modes. The blog post proposes seven way to refactor the organizational debt of this company. His conclusion is that “failing to refactor organizational debt can kill a growing company”.

The same problems happen for software development projects and organizations that try to scale. The initial developers and testers have accumulated some essential knowledge about the software architecture and features, a knowledge that is often located only in their brain as many Agile teams have minimal documentation requirements. The addition of new members to the project also requires some training time. A training effort that is often mainly done by current member of the project team.

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