Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's with the Juggler?

Recently, my daughter enjoying Tom & Jerry cartoon - in which Tom plans an incredibly complex scheme to trap Jerry - a Robe Goldberg Machine.

Years ago, I had taken my daughter to a circus - where there was juggler juggling 12-15 balls, clubs, knifes etc..,  He went on to do the same juggling while riding a unicycle. For me, doing any of those individual acts: Juggling or riding unicycle itself is an impossible challenge.

It was no surprise that the juggler was able to capture audience's undivided attention and admiration and he makes a living with his unique skills.

The two incidents - a Robe Goldberg Machine  and the Juggler acts had me thinking. Why do we humans admire them. Why do we watch in awe when people do something so complex?

This behavior to admire such complex acts which has no inherent benefit is unique to humans. While animals don't seem to admire such things, but then I have seen my dog watch hunting scenes on National Geographic channel with full concentration. Monkeys watch other monkey jump or climb and grab food. Young monkeys watch older monkey and learns from that - so there are benefits. But humans have an inbuilt, genetically hard-coded nature to admire complexity.

Why we admire complexity?

Yes, we humans are genetically built to admire complexity - buy why?

I think, its due to the nature and the survival of the species was in great part due to our ability to conquer complexity. Starting from coordinating as a group for a hunt, to creation of tools, agriculture and Cooking - to the modern world of Industrialization, Aviation, Space travel to Internet.

Economic Value of Complexity

Human civilization has always been measured by its ability to conquer complexity. Countries that have conquered very high levels of  complexity are considered more developed. Conquering complexity has its financial rewards - Developed countries are richer than developing countries.

In business, companies are able to charge very high premiums for products that solve very complex problems. Products such as SAP, or Jet Engines etc. command a hefty premium - resulting in healthy profits for manufacturers

What's my learning?

There are two main learning for me from this. One as a father and one for Product Management and Business.

As a product manager, the next generation products that I build must solve more complex problems than the previous version and increase the value of the product for the customers If the product does not solve a complex problem, then the value of the product goes down.

As a product manager for a IT Cloud infrastructure management solution, the next generation of software products must solve & conquer some of the most challenging and complex problems: Such as Software Defined Data Center, Big Data Analytics, Virtulization and Security. The solutions must be comprehensive and complete. Never go to market with an incomplete solution.

After all - nobody likes to see an error prone juggler who keeps dropping the balls!

Second learning as a father is to give a sense of curiosity to my daughter, to evoke her curiosity and make her admire at complex things in life - such as classical music, painting, classical dance, chess, etc., and then eventually go on to train her to solve extremely complex problems.

First step is to expose kids to complex arts and make them curious and then appreciate complexity, later on they can learn the necessary skills to solve complex problems and that will make her succeed in life.