Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University

Good Friction vs Bad Friction


The very sound of it says stop, re-evaluate, reimagine.

Like Yin and Yang, opposite but inter-connected forces, friction can disrupt and change the direction of a workflow, business-relationships, and balance sheets. Strong leaderships know how to spot it, when to use it and which one to use. But despite all the intended goodwill and a claimed good strategy, business leaders often overlook it and misuse it.

So, what really is a good friction?

How can you spot it?

How can you introduce it?

And last but importantly,

How can you use it to fix the potholes of low performance, disengaged teams or a bad sales month for instance?

Good friction is a deliberate intervention means to help your taskforces, your clients and your stakeholders move towards a happier work culture and stronger businesses. As soon you identify the gaps and disengagements in processes, you gently but firmly create a friction and make a space for changed systems to come alive. This might bring discomfort at first, but once you hit at the right spot, it creates ripples affect. For example, if delays are seen in a project delivery due to lengthy chain of bureaucracy.  Why don’t you enable easy, quick and autonomous pathway of decision making to have engaged, confident and happier workforce?

Think about the problem and ask yourself how I can help.

Now bad business leaders, use friction to exercise their authority, mask their incompetence or use it as a coping mechanism to hide from their own burning out and workload. Instead of incorporating agile processes, they use complex ones; instead of enabling an agency of working well and feeling good to have well-built clientele and a sturdy business, they insist on deploying rigid and tiresome processes.

Choose your friction wisely and choose it empathetically.


The art of noticing in a business world

Billy Beane, a baseball executive, who found remarkable success by bringing an unusual approach to winning baseball games. Wondered how he came up with his unconventional strategy to baseball team management that transformed the way baseball game world traditionally worked?

By paying attention to data analytics that others ignored.

To be able to lead a business using innovative approach requires one to become a ‘first-class noticer” as what Saul Bellow calls one – someone who disrupts the maddening circulation of business affair. Noticing is a vital skill for a business leader not to be consumed by the workings of running a business or leading a team. It is then, you experience what is already in front of you. It is then you are able to notice which previously seemed invisible and therefore a great possibility unattained.

So how can a business leader or a manager inculcate this art of noticing in their everyday business practices?

1- Listen deeply. You have an idea that you are sure of its success? Looking and listening is perhaps a first way forward. Listen to what others have to say, listen to what others have said about it before, listen to what hasn’t been said. Are you listening?

2- Be ready to fail. It is understandable to protect one’s business and one’s own credibility as a leader, but it is also a way to never succeed in areas you possibly could. Make allowances for innovation in your processes. Ideas you thought might not work, give them a chance.

3- Empathise. A problem that is not yours, put yourself at the front of it. How would you resolve it? A problem that is yours, how do you think others will resolve it? Remove your biases that come in the way to approach any problem.

Inculcating a habit of noticing, will connect you with unmatched possibilities, with right people who would become your rock and with a business that has an ability to navigate in difficult times.

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