This is a follow-up to https://oliverbaier.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/shaping-software-development-teams/.
A platform of loosely connected product
A while ago I was supporting a company that offered a digital platform to small and medium-sized business in a specific industry. Great people, interesting ideas — a very enjoyable experience.
This platform was composed of independent products which were connected only very loosely. Some of these products were also marketed to customers independently of this platform.
Greater flexibility, greater inconsistency, more duplication of effort
This approach provided great flexibility to the company and its partners, independence and perhaps even a friendly and good-natured competition of ideas and approaches. However, these products (or services) provided very different experiences to their users — in terms of visual design, but also in terms of interaction design, terminology, data structures etc..
This could be considered to be largely acceptable as users understood (at least to some degree) that different products were used by this platform, but a higher degree of consistency would likely have been appreciated by users. However, that company also experienced a higher degree of feature duplication than would have been acceptable in any of the initiatives I’ve worked before.
Trading consistency for team effectiveness and efficiency?
More cohesive platforms (products, services, applications, whatever), or platforms that are desired to be perceived as more cohesive by users, can be negatively impacted by much subtler inconsistencies than the ones I described above. Avoiding these inconsistencies while maintaining team effectiveness and team efficiency is what this discussion is all about.
2019-03-15: Added note on feature duplication.