Since we wrote Scaling Up Excellence in 2014, my co-author Huggy Rao and I have been deluged with stories about how organizations stymie and exasperate their executives, front-line employees, customers, and so many others.
The beleaguered people who we teach, participate in our research, and reach out to us often provide disturbing details. They explain how getting smart and necessary things done where they work requires convoluted, unnecessary, time-consuming, and soul-crushing gyrations—which get worse as organizations grow, age, and become more complex. This burden distracts them from more crucial matters. It undermines their performance and creativity. And it frustrates, discourages, and exhausts them.
These unsettling lessons prompted us to launch The Friction Project—which will be our main focus for at least the next two years. We are on a messy multi-pronged mission to understand the causes and cures for destructive organizational friction--and when it is wise to make things harder to do. The Project is supported, in part, by the Designing Organizational Change initiative, which we lead at Stanford
To learn about The Friction Project, check out the project philosophy, our articles and cases, the Friction podcast, the research tracks we are using to generate evidence and insights, and how to learn with us and from us as the project unfolds.