Choke Point

There is a tactic that you’ve seen in every war or cop movie. The hero is surrounded by bad guys, ducks down an alley or hallway and sets up a position there, picking the evil-doers off as the funnel in after him.

In the military this hall or alley is referred to as a “choke point”. It’s an environmental feature which funnels the users into a single line.

This term has also been adopted in business. A perfect example is if five people are writing requirements documents at the same time but they all have to be blessed by one person. That means that five people can only work as fast as the one approver. Choke point.

The reason that this came to mind is my house. We have a lovely, fairly large home. Very open floor plan in the front of the house with the ability to block off the back of the house for privacy. For instance, if we have workman in the house we can close one door and they don’t have access to any of the bedrooms. Nice.

EXCEPT that this means that the entire back of the house is served by one narrow hallway. Excellent for security. Sucks for everything else. I can count at least three times where we’ve bought furniture for a back room and had to send it back because there was literally no physical way to get it into the desired room. It makes walking down the hallway impossible as well. If two people are coming from opposite directions there is that inevitable dance- “After you.” “No, come on.” etc etc.

The moral of the story is this: Usability is not only for the online or business world. I made a mistake 15 years ago and it has since impacted my family and I on an almost daily basis.

Would we still have bought the house had I noticed the issues with the hallway?  Probably, given my wife’s “Ohh’s” and “Ahh’s” over everything else about the place. It is a nice house. But maybe I could have shaved a few thousand off the price.

Could have used that money for skinnier furniture…

-J

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