Evolving Through Aggregation – Product Thinking

I am quoting here from the great Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon

H. SIMON explains through his famous Hora and Tempus Parable how complexity may have evolved:
“Let me introduce the topic of evolution with a parable. There once were two watchmakers, named Hora and Tempus, who manufactured very fine watches. Both of them were highly regarded, and the phones in their workshops rang frequently – new customers were constantly calling them. However, Hora prospered, while Tempus became poorer and poorer and finally lost his shop. What was the reason?
“The watches the men made consisted of about 1.000 parts each. Tempus had so constructed his that if he had one partly assembled and had to put it down – to answer the phone say – it immediately fell to pieces and had to be reassembled from the elements. The better the customers liked his watches, the more they phoned him, the more difficult it became for him to find enough uninterrupted time to finish a watch.
“The watches that Hora made were no less complex than those of Tempus. But he had designed them so that he could put together subassemblies of about ten elements each. Ten of these subassemblies, again, could be put together into a larger subassembly; and a system of ten of the latter subassemblies constituted the whole watch. Hence, when Hora had to put down a partly assembled watch in order to answer the phone, he lost only a small part of his work, and he assembled his watches in only a fraction of the manhours it took Tempus.

I find this has lot of value for product managers to read and glean through. Pick facts through an unrelated systemic explanation as above.

There are couple of questions which I did like product managers to take as a riddle and read through for answers or thoughts :

  • How TO construct strategy as sub-assembly designs to pave a roadmap of evolution of design via aggreations of loosely coupled blocks?
  • How NOT TO consider the sub-assemblies merely as lego blocks bit instead find sub-assembly patterns as more concrete lego bricks made up of blocks ?
  • How TO find balance between increasing complexity and evolution of design to minimize disruption?

These principles would apply to any kind of ecolutionary iniative one would take up and can define impacts that are both technical as well non-technical.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

About Me

Over 20 years of experience developing software to support multi-million dollar revenue scale and leading global engineering teams. Hands-on leadership in building and mentoring software engineering teams. I love History as a subject and also run regularly long distances to keep myself functional.


%d bloggers like this: