Wednesday, October 27, 2021


A high mature organization can approach such a flow zone when people are ready to move to a fluid structure, digital leaders are eager to set stages and drive a frictionless, immersive, and relentless digital transformation.

Friction is a balancing mechanism that says something isn't aligned or set right. The variety of fricitions stifle progressive changes and generate numerous problems large or small. Any business friction existing is interference to decrease productivity, diminish innovation, or decelerate business speed. 

It’s important to understand the causes behind frictions, remove organizational, systemic, culture, barriers, break down decision bottlenecks, and lubricate communications and relationships, with the goals to unlock performance.

Process friction
: Processes underpin organizational capabilities and enable business strategy. Static or overly rigid processes would cause business friction. There are event driven processes and goal driven process. To run a customer centric organization enabled by people-centric processes, business managers need to make an objective observation on the critical process maturity; as well as how their group works with other groups, any frictions existing to decrease productivity, diminish innovation, or decelerate business speed.

The digital collaboration platforms enabled by emerging technologies, efficient apps, and tools, help to lubricate processes, flatten organizational hierarchies, keep information and ideas flow smoothly, allow people across the business ecosystem to share knowledge for solving problems and overcoming common challenges. 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 build a dynamic business to accelerate performance.

Culture friction: Culture is a collective mindset, attitude, and behavior. High performance culture is the vehicle through which the business strategy is executed and defines the environment where the talent can unleash the potential. In many companies that get stuck at the low level of maturity, the management continues to practice “command and control” style and employees do not feel fully engaged. There are culture fricitions around the business hierarch. When different shareholders holding their own subgroup cultures, push the business to different directions, change gets stuck and business transformation is stalled. The organizations cannot unlock their full potential.

The culture differences are by far the largest source of friction. Many organizations are not integral so seamlessly, often internal politics comes to the play for fighting the limited resource or taking the credit, negative culture cause frictions between people, functions, and geographical locations. To lubricate culture fricition, you need to understand people psychologically, intellectually, and anthropologically; make a seamless transition from silo setting to continuous flow; rigid hierarchical management to networked management; from command and control to self-organization; from managing products to managing processes; from training for fixed roles to learning to fit the purpose.

Productive friction: Frictions are not always negative; the idea of 'productive friction' is a way of encouraging and instilling a creative innovative environment. Creating productive friction is about flow, quality, and creativity. That means productivity seems to decrease, but you spend more time on creative activities for unlocking potential. In the environment with productive friction, creativity is stimulated via cross-functional communication, cross-generational brainstorming, and cross-industrial dots connection.

Many organizations are not fertile ground for ideation, there is the negative vibe surrounding their working environment, silo thinking, bureaucracy, and internal politics all stifle innovation to a certain degree. A creative working environment with “productive friction” ecourages intellectual curiosity, appreciate humility, allow staffs to explore alternative ways to do things, makes the work not just a job, but a career journey full of discovery and adventure.

A high mature organization can approach such a flow zone when every department in the company needs to work together cross-functional borders when necessary, to ensure that the business as a whole is superior to the sum of its parts. People are ready for moving to a fluid structure, digital leaders are eager to set stages and drive a frictionless, immersive, and relentless digital transformation.


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