The entire article is worth reading, but this is brilliant-
A thought experiment
Before I describe the model, I’d like you, the reader, to do a quick thought experiment.
Imagine that someone came to you and asked you to deliver a million Origami (that’s the art of Japanese paper folding) lobsters within the next month. Here’s a link to what one looks like courtesy of Jason Ku via MIT. How would you go about delivering on this order?
The task is clearly possible, but you face two problems: You can’t do it all yourself, and it’s a complex process.
The most straight-forward approach would be to hire about 10,000 of your closest friends to help you. Get some paper to each one of them and have each of them fold 100 lobsters. You gather up the results and you’re done.
There are a few problems with this approach. I don’t know how to fold an Origami lobster, I certainly don’t have 10,000 friends, and I don’t have a million pieces of paper (more like a million and several thousand; I don’t think they will all come out perfectly the first time). Even gathering up the million lobsters at the end is going to be a huge task.
All that said, this still is an achievable task given time and money. You could hire someone to document how to fold Origami lobsters. You could hire 10,000 people to do the folding. You could rent a big building where the people could do the work. You could buy the paper. You could hire people to gather up all the resulting lobsters.
Now let’s make this a little more realistic. As it turns out, we really want a million lobsters of two different sizes. Further, ordinary paper tears too easily and is the wrong color for Origami lobsters, so we’ve decided to make our own paper; that will require its own process. We also need to be able to deliver some of the lobsters with glitter and others with hand-painted decorations; we’ll need to plan to supply and apply those materials too. Oh, and we want to make a few thousand out of two colors of pure gold leaf instead of paper. You’ll have to manufacture the paper for that too.
What’s your plan look like now?
There’s no rush; you can deliver your million lobsters any time during the month, provided that you don’t mind people complaining that you are way too slow at getting this done. Oh, and you’ll be criticized in the international press for every failure to produce perfect lobsters.
And now, imagine this same plan, except with this twist: no one has successfully folded this particular type of Origami lobster before, so you really don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. And your reward if you are successful will not be praise, but demands that you build even more next month.
Congratulations. You’ve just imagined the scenario that Apple executives had to create for the launch of Apple Watch, except that Apple products are orders of magnitude more complex than paper lobsters. Also billions of dollars of revenue hang on you getting this process right the first time; if you don’t, your company and possibly the entire category of smartwatches will be deemed a failure. No pressure at all, really.