Not crazy at all, I love it. What if we thought about it in terms of "friction" instead of barriers?
I've jotted some notes below from a few things I've written about before - is this the kind of thing you're talking about, @jonobacon?
Our goal at Indy Hall is for somebody to go from door to sitting down and working as quickly as possible, with as few things to do/review as possible. That said, over the course of the day, needing to ask where the bathroom is, how to make a cup of coffee, etc, are social interactions that new members actually gain immense value from.
We look at every interaction carefully and determine if it’s valuable from a socialization perspective. If not, we try to automate. If it is, we work to preserve it (even if it’s more difficult than the streamlined alternative). That friction creates opportunities for people to share experiences. That’s the value we provide.
Also, this piece that connects some dots between analog and digital process in the music production world, and the kind of work we do.
The problem we have with room scheduling tools is that they create an interaction that commoditizes the use of space in favor an efficient transaction rather than an interaction between humans that could yield unrealized or under-realized value.
In our case, scheduling a conference room is as simple as sending an email or better yet, speaking to one of our team members about marking the space off as yours for a session. This subtle difference creates just a little bit of friction that allows for a conversation, no matter how brief, between the member and the person now responsible for their reservation. What happens next could still be nothing, but we’ve made sure that potential hasn’t been extracted before it has a chance to be realized, prematurely optimized for a short-term gain in efficiency.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
When intentionally decreasing the efficiency of a workflow, you need to look closely at what you’re drecreasing. It’s easy to become dogmatic about a purpose, and ignore the practicality of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Inefficiency does not mean being a martyr for your purpose.
Instead, the goal is to seek inefficiencies that make you more effective.
This means getting close to the problem that you’re actually trying to solve and often breaking it into smaller problems, rather than looking for one “fix-it-all” solution.
In our case, the choice is to prioritize our interaction with members ahead the use of space because we know the difference it makes in our experience as well as theirs. We look at each interaction individually and consider the value of keeping it “analog” versus making it more efficient. We’re careful to make sure that our sacrifices don’t put the business or the community at risk.
Experience is a melody
It should go without saying that this isn’t about reserving conference rooms. That’s just one choice, which alone isn’t responsible for the entirety of the Indy Hall experience.
In music, a melody is a succession of notes that the listener perceives as a cohesive experience.
It’s the many deliberate choices, like the notes being strung together and sometimes a library of analog gear and talented people operating it, that allow us to create unique experiences that can’t be duplicated with a plugin or a piece of software.