The Doorman Fallacy

I am a great fan of Rory Sutherland, advertising guru and author of “Alchemy, the Surprising Power of Ideas that Don’t Make Sense”.

In that book, Sutherland explains the “doorman fallacy” - what happens when your strategy become so focused on cost and efficiency and overlooks ancillary (and important) aspects. If you define the doorman’s role as “opening the door”, and replace him/her with an automatic door, you lose the benefits of all the ancillary aspects of the role:

  • taxi hailer

  • security/vagrant deterrent

  • customer recogniser (feel good factor)

  • signaller of hotel status

As Sutherland points out, the doorman may actually increase the price the hotel can charge. What is the unintended impact of his/her replacement by the automatic doors?

As a professional, there is a danger in defining the role as simply problem solver. In an era of AI, its the ancillary aspects which provide that indefinable value:

  • facilitator

  • guide

  • support

  • mentor

  • wise head

And a final thought, Amazon and other on-line shopping has brought back the job of doorman for apartment buildings in New York. AI does not ring the death knell for professional advisers - only those who can’t delivery that ancillary value.

BusinessLiz Harris