Technical debt is a serious issue. It is not yet certain how Wardley maps can be applied to visualize and manage technical debt. It is probably safe to assume someone in the Wardley mapping community will write a seminal article on the topic.
In the meantime, it might be useful to ask if there are sufficient orthodoxies in mapping to help us think about technical debt. In the context of components, Wardley’s set of climatic patterns includes:
Everything evolves through supply and demand competition.
Borrowing somewhat from the second law of thermodynamics, could we introduce a complementary climatic pattern, such as:
Everything devolves through insufficient maintenance.
Is the proposed climatic pattern valid? Does it make sense? Would it help you to think about maintenance and technical debt when mapping?
It would be useful to coalesce around a consensus either way.
Vendor upgrades (bug fixes and optimisations) generally eliminate technical debt. However, breaking changes transfer technical debt up the value chain.
Adaptive Maintenance or Redesign
General-purpose technologies (GPTs) often enable various complementary innovations that use the particular technology to make a process even more efficient. However, because GPTs form the centre of a network of complementary technologies, it means that, if the GPT becomes inaccessible for some reason, all the complementary technologies will be negatively impacted.
Helpman, 1998. General Purpose Technologies and Economic Growth.
On this basis, a component can become inaccessible through changes in regulation, obsolescence and/or the availability of (natural) resources. Technical debt is eliminated by replacing or redesigning subcomponents entirely.