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What is friction, and why should you care?
In driving, friction is very important. It’s why your car comes to a stop when you stomp on the brakes. This is generally regarded as a good thing. However, in business, friction is quite bad. Friction is anything that creates a barrier or a roadblock towards your customer being able to complete their transaction with you. This can motivate the customer to leave you, sometimes for good.
What causes friction? Usually it’s the result of a poorly thought out or poorly implemented business process. In some cases, friction is intentionally designed into the process (usually in the case of canceling your service). In most cases though, it happens by accident. It is usually the result of the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset.
Business processes, along with IT systems and processes, exist to solve a specific business problem, with very specific parameters and conditions. When those conditions change, we fail to adjust the processes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for anarchy, nor am I suggesting that the Agile methodology is perfect (although it is more friendly towards the ever present changes that will occur whether or not you planned for them.)
Process is important. It helps in onboarding new employees, provides guidelines for how to do things in a consistent manner when we are under severe pressure. It’s useful. It’s also changeable. This is the part that people forget about.
The old joke about the wife cutting off the end of the ham (because her mother always did it) illustrates this perfectly. So what does this have to do with friction? Sometimes, our process that we make our employees follow (in the pursuit of productivity) gets in the way of the customer experience (who couldn’t care less about your organizational structure).
We need to periodically examine our processes and determine if the requirements have changed, thus necessitating a change in the processes. This means that your documentation on those processes will also need to be changed. If this is something that you need done, please contact me at email@example.com. I’m here to help.