The Friction Project
Forthcoming, January 30, 2024 | St. Martin’s Press
Every organization is plagued by destructive friction—the forces that make it harder, more complicated, or downright impossible to get anything done. Yet some forms of friction are incredibly useful, and leaders who attempt to improve workplace efficiency often make things even worse. Drawing from seven years of hands-on research, The Friction Project by bestselling authors Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rao teaches readers how to become “friction fixers,” so that teams and organizations don’t squander the zeal, damage the health, and throttle the creativity and productivity of good people—or burn through cash and other precious resources.
Sutton and Rao kick off the book by unpacking how skilled friction fixers think and act like trustees of others’ time. They provide friction forensics to help readers identify where to avert and repair bad organizational friction and where to maintain and inject good friction. Then their help pyramid shows how friction fixers do their work, which ranges from reframing friction troubles they can’t fix right now so they feel less threatening to designing and repairing organizations. The heart of book digs into the causes and solutions for five of the most common and damaging friction troubles: oblivious leaders, addition sickness, broken connections, jargon monoxide, and fast and frenzied people and teams.
Sound familiar? Sutton and Rao are here to help. They wrap things up with lessons for leading your own friction project, including linking little things to big things; the power of civility, caring, and love for propelling designs and repairs; and embracing the mess that is an inevitable part of the process (while still trying to clean it up).
This is the ultimate guide to diagnosing and fixing the problems in your organization. No one knows more about making work better than this pair of experts, and they’ve produced a remarkably insightful, engrossing, evidence-based, and actionable read. If every leader took the ideas in this book seriously, the world would be a less miserable, more productive place.
Subtract friction and an organization will move faster, become more innovative and drive productivity gains. The Friction Project is a “how to” guide in a period of workforce transformation across sectors.