High Friction, High Value

My Ayurveda Doc is a delightfully irascible octogenarian. Although I've known him well for the last 3 years, I shudder to open my mouth in front of him. And so whenever I recommend him to my friends, I ensure that I coach them first before they get ready to manage his anger in their first visit.

When I think about my love for my Ayurvedic doc, and other amazing people who are largely unapproachable, I see an interesting heuristic.

We have been conditioned to think: High friction means low value. Especially, if you are product managers and designers. 

But how about high friction and therefore high value?

In an age of information abundance, unapproachability is a useful gatekeeper to weed out the non-serious from the serious. The more unapproachable you are, the easier it becomes for you to find the right people who truly value what you bring.

Call this the Collaboration Paradox, if you will.

The more doors you build to invite others towards you, the less sought-after you become.

I often use this high-friction heuristic to evaluate doctors and professionals whose services I consider important. The more customer-friendly a hospital or a doctor is, the louder my warning bells ring about the doctor's efficacy. I know, it sounds idiosyncratic.

Think about it.

When friction-less design is pervasive, products and services with high friction are going to be very useful to sift the wheat from the chaff.