Rory Sutherland wrote about ‘doorman fallacy’ on page 126 of  Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life.

« The ‘doorman fallacy’, as I call it, is what happens when your strategy becomes synonymous with cost-saving and efficiency; first you define a hotel doorman’s role as ‘opening the door’, then you replace his role with an automatic door-opening mechanism.

The problem arises because opening the door is only the notional role of a doorman; his other, less definable sources of value lie in a multiplicity of other functions, in addition to door-opening: taxi-hailing, security, vagrant discouragement, customer recognition, as well as in signalling the status of the hotel. The doorman may actually increase what you can charge for a night’s stay in your hotel.

When every function of a business is looked at from the same narrow economic standpoint, the same game is applied endlessly. Define something narrowly, automate or streamline it — or remove it entirely — then regard the savings as profit. Is this, too, explained by argumentative thinking, where we would rather win the argument than be right? »

See my review of Alchemy on The Key Point.

 

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