Systema: Six Hats, Six Coats and Holons

Parable of the Watchmakers

There once were two watchmakers, named Hora and Tempus, who made very fine watches. The phones in their workshops rang frequently; new customers were constantly calling them. However, Hora prospered while Tempus became poorer and poorer. In the end, Tempus lost his shop. What was the reason behind this?

The watches consisted of about 1000 parts each. The watches that Tempus made were designed such that, when he had to put down a partly assembled watch (for instance, to answer the phone), it immediately fell into pieces and had to be reassembled from the basic elements.

Hora had designed his watches so that he could put together subassemblies of about ten components each. Ten of these subassemblies could be put together to make a larger sub- assembly. Finally, ten of the larger subassemblies constituted the whole watch. Each subassembly could be put down without falling apart.


While I was maintaining my site I came across a search string that lead to my site. One of the keywords was “holon” and I decided to look into the term.

The term holon originated with Arthur Koestler in his book Ghost in the Machine. It describes the existence of independent systems which are subsystems to larger independent systems as well as being composed of smaller independent subsystems. This chain of more significant and more fundamental independent systems is called a “holarchy”.


The Six Hats, Six Coats Framework’s independent entities–rules, nodes, data, functions, people, events– are holons, which form the larger holon of an independent system, which in turn is part of ever more significant holons. Each of the framework’s independent entities are also composed of more fundamental holons. Relationships, attributes, constraints, definitions and manipulations are not holons because they cannot exist independent of their entities.

Check out the links on this post to learn more.