“Kill It with Fire” exceeded my expectations. I initially anticipated a boots-on-the-ground review of technical debt handling. What I’ve got instead was almost everything but that.

The book has changed the way I think about technical debt and how to communicate it upwards. It provides sound advice on various topics, including how to fight tech debt, schedule maintenance work, and communicate with stakeholders. I have not come across any other book that provides this much credible advice on the topic of technical debt without exclusively catering to a particular audience.


Fixing the wrong thing is bad, but leaving an unfinished attempt at fixing it is worse. Incomplete initiatives lead to confusing, poorly documented, and difficult-to-maintain systems. If you’re intervening early enough that the team hasn’t made significant changes yet, it’s advisable to halt their efforts.

Occasional outages and system issues, particularly if they’re resolved quickly and efficiently, can actually increase user trust and confidence.

Future-proofing systems doesn’t entail building them to avoid the need for redesigns or migrations, as that’s impossible. Instead, it means constructing and, more importantly, maintaining systems to prevent lengthy modernization projects that disrupt normal operations. The key to future-proofing is to make migrations and redesigns routine tasks that don’t require a significant effort.

The more often engineers perform a task, the better they become at it, and the more likely they are to remember that they need to do it and plan accordingly.

It’s not necessary to design for scale until you have the scale you need.

We are more productive when we can devote more time to work tasks. When we finish work tasks, any leftover time can be devoted to reducing our technical debt.

Legacy systems may seem like dead-end work to many software engineers, but the truth is that systems that aren’t used get shut down. Working on legacy systems is vital because they control millions of people’s lives in countless ways. It’s not janitorial work, but rather that of a battlefield surgeon. It has been an immense privilege to work among them.