Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University

Good Friction vs Bad Friction

Navigating Problem Solving and Decision Making
By Maliha Haider
March 26, 2024


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.