Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Path to Least Resistance

 When I was young, the walk to the bus stop would inevitably lead through a neighbour's front yard, via  a 1-foot trench in their lawn where everyone else walked.  I think they tried to sod it a few times and gave up.

Rather than letting this happen, they could have done a few things to resolve this.

1. Ask the city to move the bus stop. (hundreds of hours and probably a petition involved.)

2. Brick the trench and create a walkway.

3. Put a sign up to keep off the grass.

4. Build a fence.

5. Chain a guard dog to the front yard.

I will have to see what they ended up doing next time I drive by there.  My guess is the trench is still there or they bricked it over, since that's the path to least resistance for them (no confrontation and little effort)

Here's an article on this theory.

And a story from a blogger I read regularly that got me thinking about this:

That reminds me of a story I heard in business school 40 years ago. A developer of a new campus of buildings purposefully did not do any landscaping or paved walkways for a couple months until well after the residents had moved in. Then he simply paved the areas where the people had walked, and he landscaped appropriately. I have never forgotten that.

When you build something, it’s always for the user. It’s never about the builder.

Source: Bill Cara: Cara’s Daily Commentary, Thurs., May 24, 2007, 8:55 AM

Walking through High Park last night with my dog, I could see this in action.  Pathways from all of the bikers, walkers, dogs, and runners go off in various directions, but you would seldom see new paths, unless a maintenance fence was put up. 

Of course the path to least resistance is also procrastination, so I had better get back to work...

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