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Breaking Weekly Digital Gridlock #9: Phase 2 Syndrome

Weekly FinTech Tip: Diagnose Your Organization and Treat Phase 2 Syndrome With Continuous Improvement

Feel a cough coming on? Have you checked it out?

Do you know what Phase 2 syndrome is? It’s not cancer, but it’s close.

Phase 2 syndrome: It could happen to you.

Phase 2 syndrome is simple. If you’ve ever started a project where there was a Phase 1 in the process and then Phase 2 was supposed to happen but it never did, you have Phase 2 Syndrome. For instance, let’s say you installed a new product. and that product had features A, B, C, D, E and so on, but for the sake of time you agreed to only install A, B, and C in the first phase with a promise of getting D, E, and F in Phase 2, but things happened and Phase 2 never came around. This is the essence of Phase 2 Syndrome.

So, I bet you’re thinking, “Well, we definitely have this problem, but what can we do?” The biggest challenge with curing Phase 2 Syndrome lies not in the motivations of the people doing the work, but in your organizational structure. Simply put, the people who are implementing these products should not be the same people who are implementing Phase 2. There is a difference between creating a new product and supporting that product, so you’re going to need two different work streams.

Did you know the Golden Gate Bridge is maintained 24/7, 365? However, it’s not maintained by the people who actually built the bridge. Those folks are long gone. You would never ask the architects who built the bridge to be the same ones to paint the bridge every day or to support the bridge, and yet we do this every day with digital products. There are two very different mindsets, so what’s the fix? What do we do?

Well, you’re going to need to have separate work streams, that’s the first thing. You’re going to have to have a group of people who implement things and a group of people who continuously improve things.

Continuous improvement!

Add that to your vocabulary. For instance, have you ever had a problem with the Facebook app? You get a new Facebook app very quickly, almost every day. Most of the major players are putting out updates and new additions to their app. Why do they do this? Because it’s a small change over time and it’s continuous improvement. Continuous improvement runs on a cycle, and it’s a very simple cycle. Identify what you’re doing, plan, then execute. You then learn or review and start the cycle over again. When was the last time your mobile app was updated? If it’s been more than a month you’re not doing continuous improvement.

Would you like to learn more about continuous improvement? You can buy my book, Breaking Digital Gridlock, available at Amazon. I have information about continuous improvement specifically for banks and credit unions in that book. For more information and resources, you can go to and click on the continuous improvement link.

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Premiered on Mar 16, 2019

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