Cultural debt

Most people are familiar with the concept of technical debt:

Technical debt is a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer. — Wikipedia

You can take on some technical debt, but if you don’t re-pay it, it will accumulate interest over time (e.g. it’s becoming more and more difficult to ship features). Taking on technical debt can make sense, but you have to understand that at some point you will have to pay it back + interest.

Less people are familiar with cultural debt, however. In the same sense as with tech debt, you can choose an easy solution (e.g. commanding your direct report exactly what to do), instead of using a better approach that would take longer (e.g. taking the time to fully explain the goal & context and letting her figure out how to solve it), but at some point you have to deal with the interest (e.g. disengaged employees).

This article is part of my 1-hour experiment: