While the term "full stack" has historically described a certain type of software company, its use has recently expanded to describe an entire approach to business. For businesses providing a product or service, a full stack approach means addressing the complete value chain from end-to-end, controlling the entire customer experience instead of providing a partial solution that relies on licensing to, or integrating with, existing businesses serving the target market.
At Proper Orange, being a full stack company means taking a comprehensive and coordinated approach. It means not only providing strategies and solutions across the entire value chain, but also considering the relationships between various parts of a business and how a strategy for one part relies on all of the other parts to succeed.
"The challenge with the full stack approach is you need to get good at many different things: software, hardware, design, consumer marketing, supply chain management, sales, partnerships, regulation, etc. The good news is that if you can pull this off, it is very hard for competitors to replicate so many interlocking pieces." -Chris Dixon
One obvious challenge of this approach is that it requires a wide range of domain knowledge. It's no longer sufficient to be an excellent specialist, regardless of the demand for a particular skill set. The full stack approach requires us to think holistically, reaching beyond our usual scope to address a business ecosystem.
Luckily, the Proper Orange team members are multi-specialists. Some of us have held a wide variety of roles in different businesses over the years, while others have sustained multiple roles in parallel. Together, we understand the constraints and connections between various business units because all of us have personal experience working on multiple parts of the value chain.
"The fundamental mindset shift while providing a full-stack solution is to stop thinking in terms of the products and services you own today, or even in terms of the ones that you can create tomorrow, and start thinking in terms of the full stack of products and services required to guarantee user outcomes." -Sangeet Paul Choudary
Our full stack approach also incorporates something we call radical cohesion. Rather than simply addressing the various needs of a business, department by department, and delineating points of connection, we develop and deliver creative strategies that innovate or improve efficiency in multiple business units simultaneously.
For example, we architect software with the flexibility to radically change or automatically generate UX/UI without impacting the underlying data structure. This enables a business to quickly change the complete look and feel of a product, either to try a new approach to serving their target market, or to address the needs of a different market entirely. It also allows the business to easily develop white label solutions or multiple brands of the same product. Additionally, this ensures a rock-solid data model that won't break when the UI changes.
In this way, even a somewhat abstract process like software architecture directly addresses the current and future goals of marketing, customer service, product management and development, as well as the long-term roadmap of the business as a whole.
“A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock pile when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.”-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
At the end of the day, whether we call our approach full stack, end-to-end, or radically cohesive, our goal is to create the easiest pathway to scale.
Our radically cohesive, deeply integrated solutions are inherently scalable, because they simultaneously support multiple parts of the business. This means there are fewer business processes to scale, which in turn means there are fewer potential bottlenecks to address.
This also means that, even if your product has a strong competitor, the scalability of your entire business still gives you a massive advantage. Taking the broader view of the complete value chain shifts your focus from processes to systems, from constraints to possibilities, and from short-term gains to lasting outcomes.
This expansive view is our comfort zone.