Forget Technical Debt — Heres How to Build Technical Wealth | First Round Review.

This means code that isn’t written cleanly, that lacks explanation, that contains zero artifacts of your ideas and decision-making processes. A unit test is one type of artifact, but so is any documentation of the rationale and reasoning used to create that code. If there’s no way to tell what the developer was thinking when you go to improve it — that’s legacy code.


The lesson here is simple: If you want to limit your legacy code down the line, pay attention to the details that will make it easier to understand and work with in the future. Write and run unit, acceptance, approval, and integration tests. Explain your commits. Make it easy for future you (and others) to read your mind.


To get more specific, there are three types of remodeling work every company should plan on:

  • Automated testing

  • Continuous delivery

  • Cultural upgrades

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

To make this point, Goulet quotes author Robert Henri:

The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.

“That’s how you need to start thinking about your software,” she says. “Your culture can be that state. Your goal should always be to create an environment where art just happens, and that art is clean code, awesome customer service, happy developers, good product-market fit, profitability, etc. It’s all connected.”

“There’s this inflection point between growth and stability where menders must surge, and you start to balance them more equally against the makers focused on new features,” says Goulet. “You have your systems. Now you need them to work better.”

This means allocating more of your organization’s budget to maintenance and modernization. “You can’t afford to think of maintenance as just another line item,” she says. “It has to become innate to your culture — something important that will yield greater success in the future.”

Ultimately, the technical wealth you build with these efforts will give rise to a whole new class of developers on your team: scouts that have the time and resources to explore new territory, customer bases and opportunities. When you have the bandwidth to tap into new markets and continuously get better at what you already do — that’s when you’re truly thriving.