Nov 06, 2020

It most definitely does exist. They just don't call it that. Every organization that's responsible for a system that produces their revenue and requires upkeep runs into this, they just either don't have a specific name or it's not a name we (programmers) see.

See: http://web.mit.edu/nelsonr/www/Repenning%3DSterman_CMR_su01_... [pdf] for an example of an analysis of a technical debt analog in other industries.

Nov 06, 2020

http://web.mit.edu/nelsonr/www/Repenning%3DSterman_CMR_su01_...

The Capability Trap. The core idea is that you have pressure to deliver a product (get "real" work done), but also maintain or improve your ability to do the work. If you ignore that maintenance portion, you end up being able to produce less over time. And the cost to recover the capability increases over time due to neglect.

In the kitchen example, cleaning and maintaining the fryers every (period of time) means that you can get years, if not decades, out of them. But failing to do so may force you to turn them off (produce less food for customers at a time). Then you have to either replace or pay for expensive maintenance and repair work, which is usually more costly than just having someone come in and drain the system, clean it, and give it a once over every (period of time).

EDIT:

I thought that paper had been submitted and commented on more recently, but the last commented submission was from January 2015. So it's now submitted here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25009980