Just as we don't want personal financial debt to force us into making decisions that we don't want to - let's say we overstretched ourselves on a mortgage and it is keeping us in a job that we hate or a commute that we can't bear.
We also don't want your technical debt to stop us from making decisions and changes in our business - Let's say that we can’t start that digital transformation pilot because we have too many P1’s coming into the helpdesk and as a consequence of the flakey systems no one takes us seriously, which in turn stops peers and leaders from backing our plans.
The very first step is to ensure everything is visible, as if we can't see it we can’t manage it. We can probably achieve this by establishing very light change control. Once we have understood the size and shape of the situation we can move on to creating a plan for dealing with it.
Our next step is to create an agile plan of action. This plan needs to be a live document, because we are working in an unstable environment and what was number 2 on the list last week could be number 5 tomorrow. The plan also needs to take into consideration how the business as a whole works, and what is important to our external stakeholders as well as our internal ones - There is no point in making the first port of call an internal email performance issue if the CRM system is down and the sales group are left hanging with a big deal to close, or if the link to the eCommerce platform on the website is broken.
We will now break the tasks on our plan down into the smallest manageable chunks that we can and workout what we are going to do, why we are doing it, how we will do it and when it is going to be done.
Performing this straightforward exercise should give us an idea of the tasks that need completing, why they are important to the business and its goals, what resources we will need to complete them and when the work will happen. We might even be able to introduce some new ways of working like KanBan or Scrum whilst cleaning things up.
We may need to go to the business to explain the situation and secure extra funding or time to get everything stabalised. It's important here to be able to use systems thinking to show that we are cognisant of the business as a whole, it's overall strategy, and are ourselves keeping an eye on our own end goal of transformation.
With the environment stable and newfound respect from our peers and the business we can now build on the foundations of our teams good work and pilot that transformation initiative.