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Sometimes it's about what you don't build

Published 2024-06-15 22:48. #Projects #Thoughts 

Differentiation is key to success in building software products. But differentiation does not have to mean stacking more on top of your product. It can be about the gaps you leave, the simplicity you offer and the things you don't do.

Software product teams are always looking for features or ideas that can differentiate their product from their competitors'. Most of the time the teams are looking at what piece can still be added to the „Jenga” tower of features they've built in the past. Chasing after the next big thing that can just turn the world around for them.

I find the game of „Jenga” to be a good analogy for a lot of software in this world:

  • You begin with a bare bones setup und build up this tower of features and ideas
  • The more that time moves on the more features and ideas get rearranged, get reshuffled or rebuilt
  • Most importantly people stack more on top
  • As time progresses further the architecture gets a whole lot more brittle and shaky

Yes, the analogy falls apart in various ways, too. But I believe the point comes across: It's not always about what you can stack on top of what you've already built. Sometimes it's also about what not to build. Where to reduce complexity. Where to rebuild things properly. Or where to simply leave things alone.

Especially for small to mid-sized companies it can be game changing to not build a feature their competitor has. It can be game changing to leave out things. It might just save you a whole lot of headache and complexity you'll have to carry into the future.