Friction (3): when friction helps

Friction in the wrong places slows us down and drains our energy, but it has its uses:

  • Friction in processes or emotional friction it’s often a sign that we have work to do
  • Friction is our friend when we need to be slowed down – it makes us pause, think, look before we leap and check that things are right. Getting people to agree to things, formal sign offs and purchasing processes all have their place.
  • Friction can be a filter – making something more difficult can encourage people to drop out, help them (or you) to realise it’s not for them, saving everyone time.

So what? Some questions.

  • Where are the most painful points of friction in your workflow? What slows you down – or slows others down as they work with or for you? Are there barriers you can remove to make things easier? Which relationships do you need to invest in – or end?
  • Where do things happen faster than you’d like? Add a step – a form to be completed, a permission, an audition – to slow things down.
  • Use friction to discourage people who aren’t serious. Make it meaningful and relevant (like giving you information that you always need to ask for or candidates demonstrating a skill in a real piece of work). Fewer people coming through a process allows you to do better work with those that do.

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