Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Good Friction and Bad Friction

 Sutton and Rao are well-known teachers and researchers on how to fix problems. Their book, The Friction Project, shows us how to add the good kind of friction—to make mistakes or slogging through administrative sludge harder to occur—and reduce the bad kind of friction—to streamline getting the desired results. Unfortunately, this is the first paradox: the title and use of the word “friction” as both a good thing and a bad thing. The authors may have wanted to use different words to describe the good form and the bad form. They report on not only their own work but admit that they’ve built this treatise on the research, writings and consulting efforts of others as well. So secondarily, it’s hard to discern where their originality begins and ends.

They define a pyramid of methods for fixing friction, enabling friction, getting the results you want and avoiding the undesirable consequences. They provide a toolbox for discovering those areas that are rife with bad friction. They give a plethora of case studies throughout the book.

For those unfamiliar with how to look at their organization’s efforts with objective lenses, this is a helpful book. It won’t be so helpful for those familiar with evaluative and awareness techniques encompassed by Theory of Constraints (identifying the critically constrained resource and eliminating obstacles for complete utilization and effectiveness and improving the throughput of the whole system), Lean (specifically identifying wastes and value-stream mapping), Six Sigma, Kepner -Tregoe, Kahnemann’s and Tversky’s thinking biases and blind spots (Think Fast, Think Slow), simply experiencing your own systems as your internal and external customers would, simply asking of each procedural step/report request “So what? Who cares? What will we know or do differently based on this?”, and so on.  

I’m appreciative of the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to preview this book.

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