Management Debt

  • January 24, 2012
  • Scott

I guess if we can have Technical Debt, and Process Debt, why not Management Debt?

Ben Horowitz’ post on Management Debt is a good read, but one thing that separates it from technical debt or process debt is that it seems to my own naivete that it almost never pays to pick up the management debt if you can avoid it, as described by Ben:

Like technical debt, management debt is incurred when you make an expedient, short-term management decision with an expensive, long-term consequence. Also like technical debt, the trade-off sometimes makes sense, but often does not. More importantly, if you incur the management debt without accounting for it, then you will eventually go management bankrupt.

He gives three tough examples – two in a box, overcompensation, and no feedback loop.

In the end, it comes down to leadership even more than management.  In each of his scenarios, good leadership cuts through the problems or is willing to pay the debt now rather than later.

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