One day this person asks you, "You talked about technical debt in the last sprint planning. I did not understand that term. Can you explain it to me?"
It's often helpful to use a metaphor to describe such a term. I chose my favorite metaphor from Stefan Toth from the excellent German Software Architecture book "Vorgehensmuster für Softwarearchitektur".
It describes the term "technical debt" with non-technical words perfectly.
"Technical debt is a bit like the last beer of the evening, which is fun for you for the moment but relevantly diminishes your work performance the next day." - Stefan Toth (translated from german to english)
Great other metaphors from students
As a small side project, I'm giving a presentation on technology management and technical debt at Lucerne University from Applied Sciences and Arts in the certified of advanced studies course "Digital Architect". I asked the students the same question.
I got some interesting metaphor ideas (translated from German to English):
Picking grapes: the more the basket is filled with grapes, the heavier it becomes to carry them. Therefore, I need to empty or re-sort it from time to time.
Problems I'll solve tomorrow, because I've no time now
Credit card, but the bill is paid by someone else
How would you describe technical debt to a non-technical person?
I look forward to hearing and discussing more creative metaphors! 😃