On the concept of “team debt”

The concepts of “technical debt” and “team debt” are terms that the church and para-church need to borrow and learn from – asap.

I recently saw tweet with a link to this blog post: Onboarding And The Cost Of Team Debt

I don’t know who Kate is other than what she says in the article – she does software engineering – but I’ve been saying for years now that the church has a lot to learn from the tech world. So much!

This is a prime example…

The short of it is this: In the tech world there is a concept of “technical debt” that refers to building something out, but not completed, launching it still not completed, and then accumulating many projects like this that eventually become so much that one must pause all new work and simply finish something.

It does become highly inefficient and frustrating to work on any project or organization with a lot of technical debt.

The same can be true of an organization that just brings on people and hopes they get it figured out what the organization is about, what they should be doing and how, and so on.

It accumulates quickly.

It provides a lot of confusion and sense of helplessness or inability to do great work, at best, and a lot of head bumping, toe stomping, and prideful “my-way-is-the-way” scuffles at worse.

Everyone needs to be mindful of “onboarding” and the systems and procedures we teach our teams and leaders. Yet, how much more is this true when you’re working with volunteers, untrained and unprofessional people, who often are not deeply entrenched in your culture, educated about your norms, but still have strong opinions and want to help out.

Yea… Super important that we onboard and communicate really well – clearly, thoroughly, repeatedly.

Super important we avoid the major problem of “team debt” so that we don’t end up having to freeze all forward momentum, pause and take care of culture issues (or worse), and make a bunch of apologies and hard changes to try to get back on track – thus losing a great deal of support we would have otherwise had if we had done a good job in the first place.


I’d encourage you to read the full article. It explains it better than I just did and is quite good in general.

Leave a thought?