Thursday, August 19, 2021


Sometimes, within fricition or resistances lies deep wisdom and great energy.

Organizations large or small across the industries feel the gain and pains as they are experiencing the increasing pace of changes, frequent disruptions, fierce competitions and more selective customers. Not to mention that in many organizations getting stuck at the lower level of business maturity, dysfunction, complication, rigidity, and inefficiencies are not always easy to uncover. 

Different types of friction are expected such as strategic, structural, systems, and all need to be addressed effectively and efficiently, in order to improve organizational agility and maturity.

Strategic friction: Strategy execution is a journey and there are numerous roadblocks on the way. Compare strategy management with a trip plan, destination, path, speed, alignment of all business partners are part of the strategic planning, failure to convey, arrangement and commitment are called reasons for frictions. Strategic friction at the different levels are expected and both need to be addressed effectively and efficiently. Organizational managers should remind themselves that strategy and execution are not linear steps, but an iterative continuum. They need to keep making adjustments to adapt to the rapid changes. Change Management and strategy management should go hand-in-hand; having a Change Management agenda ready, with planned and ensured communication from top to down would highly help in building the new culture.
Technically, friction is a balancing mechanism that says something isn't aligned or set right. Business executives themselves cannot be the only people who can successfully transform the organization. It’s important to understand the causes behind frictions, remove organizational, systemic, cultural, barriers, break down decision bottlenecks, and lubricate business relationships. The real challenge is to understand where and how you can and should improve to get the biggest effect and scale-up across the digital ecosystem.

Structure friction: In many traditional companies with an overly rigid hierarchy, the top-down “command and control” management style often builds the wall between functional silos, stifles innovation and decelerates business speed. Organizational structure friction impedes change, discourage cross boundary communication and collaboration. The management continues to practice “command and control” style and employees do not feel fully engaged, the organizations cannot unlock their full potential. Consider nature as self-organized, self-adaptive, but interlaced environments. Limited hierarchy works best in a creative environment where the free flow of ideas and their prompt implementation is a key element of business success.

Forward-thinking companies are on the journey to become more innovative and people centric. The challenge for any business is to design a successful organizational structure that delivers what the customer wants cost-effectively, improves employee productivity, innovativeness, takes a hybrid approach to mix formal organizational hierarchy and informal relationship structure, defines your circles, roles, and authority through the members of your organization, and speed up organizational response to changing markets.

People friction: People are the center of running an organization. Even if the management has a completely realistic plan in place, who's to say that the employees will not show resistance or inertia to the proposed change? Thus, to drive changes and execute the strategy, you need to understand people psychologically, intellectually and anthropologically. The resistance that delays more than anticipated often comes from these areas of the organization where employees were informed rather than involved. On the positive side though, do not see people's friction or resistance as a problem only, it’s also an opportunity that helps you to dig through their mindset, find the root cause of issues. So you bend over and embed a balancing mechanism into key processes, tap into the true cause of problems, better understand and work with the energy of resistance you can in order to accelerate purposeful change.

Solid leadership and management discipline is there at the crossroads of the transformation to make sure information and interaction flow in every direction, build up trust by bonding people around clear and benevolent intentions. To deal with psychological or behavior frictions smoothly, build up a positive emotional environment, foster collaborative relationships, communicate relentlessly, cool down stressed people before they stress others. Nevertheless, change agents and knowledge experts are needed to challenge convention and break down peoples' natural resistance to change or to new ideas; helping to deliver incremental improvements over time. Organizational design, leadership development, and culture cultivation could regain some of the reputation it once had if we focused more on the root causes that employees are not engaged fully and not spend so much time chasing and trying to treat the symptoms.

System friction: Contemporary organizations are hyper-connected and interdependent systems that keep evolving to the dynamic business environment. To be highly functional and adaptive, business management needs to encourage autonomy, balance the freedom and responsibility to enforce trustful relationships between people and process, streamline information flow, and foster communication for achieving high-performance results. Organizations have both visible and invisible success factors; formal manuals and hidden rules, frictions perhaps exist between the interaction between people and processes; processes and technologies; functional borders or different layers of organizational hierarchy, etc. Thus, to lubricate the chains of business management, first, it is important for gaining the knowledge necessary to understand and manage complex systems. Secondly, the most challenging one is to understand how the people factor affects the system, and then managing the complex system and the people of the complex system.

A frictionless organizational system with dynamic processes and flexible structures allow staff to get out of their comfort zone, figure out alternative ways to do things, and nurture a high performance culture which is the vehicle through which the business strategy is executed and defines the environment where the talent can unleash the potential. This further improves quality, reliability and productivity, and fuels sustainable growth. The transformation-driven strategic management takes a holistic view of things both internally and externally as the way of coming up with premium solutions to many thorny issues and step-wise actions that will improve organizational performance.

Sometimes, within fricitions or resistances lies deep wisdom and great energy. Business transformation is more like a journey than a destination by navigating through changes in a structural way. Predicting and preparing the next level of digitalization is an iterative learning and changing continuum. The real challenge is to understand the priorities of your company, and know where and how you can and should improve to amplify the change effect.


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