I’m writing this in a London cafe on a cold day.
Each new customer opens the door and expects it to swing back closed behind them. But the door doesn’t do that. Instead, it stays open and the cafe starts to get cold.
At first, the staff shouted at customers to close the door behind them. But then their manager suggested shouting at customers before they’ve paid wasn’t the best strategy.
Instead, staff began to close the door behind each customer. But this wasn’t sustainable either. It took time away from serving customers and was clearly frustrating staff to do this every time a new customer enters (about every two minutes by my count).
So they wrote a sign and posted it on the door reminding customers to close the door behind them. But the sign was written in ink and was too small. Most customers ignored it.
Next, the staff wrote a bigger and clearer sign in bold marker and posted this on the door. This didn’t help either. There’s already five other notices on the door and window. Too many for any customer to bother reading any of them. They could remove the other signs, but that would upset management.
I’m struck by how often we’re faced with equivalent problems in a community.
We have a technology problem and there isn’t a perfect solution. We’re forced to choose between:
a) Simply allowing it to happen (i.e. allowing existing members to be disrupted).
b) Shouting at new members to behave the right way.
c) Politely trying to nudge members to do something (with little effect).
d) Posting really big signs (at the expense of other notices).
e) Doing a lot of extra work ourselves.
f) Paying (and waiting) for the technology to be fixed.
There’s no useful advice here – just a lesson that you’re not alone in these dilemmas. There’s no easy solution even to the most simple of problems. Sometimes you just have to figure out which is least painful.
The staff have settled upon the cafe getting cold.