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A JPMorgan exec explains how a “controlled autonomy” mindset helps the bank make feature updates in weeks versus years.  

JPMorgan realized that it could prevent its IT department from being a “bottleneck” to innovation by pairing rigorous technology standards with independence for product teams. 

Legacy financial institutions are under enormous pressure to keep up with innovative fintechs – and it requires them to rethink how they structure and run their businesses.  

For JPMorgan, that means relying on a spirit of “controlled autonomy” for its development, where teams are structured around products and given freedom to build, experiment, and launch features independently, so long as their technology adheres to a set of centralized standards, according to head of technology for Chase Digital Banking, Roman Eisenberg, who spoke at Tearsheet’s recent banking conference.  

With “controlled autonomy,” teams don’t have to “wait for my team in digital technology to do things for them,” Eisenberg said. “They can do that work themselves.” By eliminating its IT “bottleneck” in favor of technological standards that involve testing and compliance protocols, the bank tends to roll out new or updated features every two weeks, he added.  

As another technology exec at the bank recently put it: “There’s huge value in doing things incrementally.” JPMorgan has previously described its product leaders as “mini-CEOs” who operate their respective teams like startups within the bank.