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The Friction Project with Bob Sutton

"[Friction creates] the feeling that you’re trying to accomplish [something], but there’s something about the system that makes it difficult or impossible for you to get it done. […] When people feel excessively burdened, they’re less creative. They tend to leave the organization. They just give up."

In The Friction Project: How Smart Leaders Make the Right Things Easier and the Wrong Things Harder, Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao share insights on friction—the forces that make it harder, slower, more complicated, or even impossible to get things done in organizations.

Sutton is an expert on organizational psychology at Stanford University and a best-selling author. His latest book is a culmination of a seven-year research effort on how effective organizations function without driving employees and customers crazy.

Together with Martin Reeves, Chairman of BCG Henderson Institute, Sutton explores what friction is, where it comes from, and its effects – both positive and negative. They discuss the practical steps leaders and employees can take to remove and add friction in the right places. They also discuss broader implications, like whether the nature and consequences of friction will change in a world increasingly characterized by machine-machine and machine-human, rather than only human-human interactions.

Key topics discussed:

[00:54] What is organizational friction
[04:30] The negative consequences of friction
[08:42] What does good friction look like?
[14:14] How to remove friction
[17:22] What creates friction
[19:11] Removing friction and creating problems
[22:04] Is friction less problematic in a world of AI?
[25:26] How can ideas about friction be applied in academia?

Additional inspirations from Bob Sutton: 

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