My Desk is Technical Debt

work safe

I just spent almost the whole of 2009 working at a client’s site. I had a year in which I had a few large shifts in how I view “collaboration”. Some of this was fostered by fitting in to a different role. Some of this was because I’d previously spent several years working essentially solo. Some of it came from talking with coworkers about the philosophies of workspaces.

Regardless, I spent almost year away from my desk and only recently came back on January 3rd. I was looking forward to reorganizing it. Move the mini fridge. Put the laptop against the back wall. Clean out some six year old notepads from old projects.

Before I even got to lunch ony first day back, my new team lead took my attention in two directions. I hit the ground running with some wpf prototyping and I was told I’d be moving to a different desk in the building in a few weeks.

With the pending move it was hard to convince myself to unpack my box and move back into my desk. However, every interaction I’ve had with my team (although, honestly just the team-lead so far) has reinforced why I wanted to rearrange my desk in the first place.

True story. And a metaphor. Technical debt has been on my mind recently, since it was the IndyAlt.NET topic this past month. The most useful definition of technical debt for me is simple, Technical debt is the resistance of your codebase to change. What does this have to do with my desk?

After spending time with another desk (after working on a different code-base), I returned to my old desk (I came back to a brownfield application) with ideas about layout that would make it easier to work (with changes to the architecture that would make it easier to change), but I was hesitant and missed an opportunity to realize value because I was distracted by the pending move (the pending rewrite).

The sooner you make it right, the sooner you start to get value from that change. The longer you put if off, the less likely you will be able to recoupe the effort of the change, but the more you pay to work around it.

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