“We’ll take care of it in Phase 2.”
Famous last words. This is the cry of compromise. It’s a phrase that echoes the silenced screaming of a thousand designers agreeing to less than 100% of the approved design being launched. It’s the tortured souls of disembodied drop-shadows, rounded corners, gradients and animated transitions roaming the nether regions of cyberspace — somewhere between a PSD and a hosted pixel.
But it’s not just designers who fear that phrase. Developer, too, tremble at the thought of hacks, workarounds and generally sloppy code making out to production with the never-to-come promise of future paying down of this technical debt.
And why does Phase 2 wreak such havoc in the minds of those who make web sites? Because Phase 2 rarely stands a chance in the shadow of The Shiny Object.
The Shiny Object is the next thing. It’s new. It’s young. It’s sexy. It begs to be worked on. It’s the future and it’s WAY more interesting than the “thing we JUST finished.” In a waterfall world, there’s almost no standing the way of The Shiny Object. It has the gravitational pull of a black hole sucking any notion of iterating on the feature set just released into its cold, dark center. However, in Agile environments, The Shiny Object stands a greater chance of being defeated because it is Phase 2 (and it’s siblings, Phase 3, 4 and N) that make short, iterative product development cycles possible and palatable to designers and developers.
Phase 2 holds the promise of taking the minimally viable product just released to your customers and making it that much better. That extra layer of data that makes the core experience that much more valuable? Let’s get it in there now. That extra design polish that wasn’t deemed “minimal enough” now gets its turn in the sun. Yet The Shiny Object looms large even in the Agile workplace yet it is imperative we resist its siren song.
Ignoring the need for Phase 2 destroys the promise of rapid, iterative design and development. The team inevitably gets that “half-assed” feeling for their work if, at the end of the iteration, it becomes apparent that Phase 2 will not come. In fact, The Shiny Object that has replaced Phase 2 also starts to look less shiny since, as we know, there won’t be enough time to get it truly shiny with The Shinier Object just around the bend.
Phase 2 is crucial to success. You must plan for it. Your Agile workplace depends on it. The expectations must be set early with every stakeholder that multiple phases will be needed to complete this work and that moving on to The Shiny Object will only happen when the team reaches consensus that a minimally desirable product has been developed.
Stay strong my friends.