The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is 'Friction'? (Systems)

Friction is any process that removes energy from a system over time.

It's necessary to continue to add energy to a system when there's Friction to keep it moving at the same rate.

Introducing Friction can sometimes make people behave in a certain way, like having to present a receipt when making a return, which can lower your return rate. But doing this too much can lower your Reputation.

Remove Friction from your business to increase quality and efficiency.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Friction'

Imagine a hockey puck on the ground in front of you. You're suitably armed with a hockey stick, and the objective is to move the puck from its present location to the goal, which is located one mile away.

First, assume the puck is sitting in a field of tall grass, which is waving in the wind. Each whack of the hockey stick will move the puck only a few feet, since the tall grass robs the puck of energy.

At this rate, you'll have to hit the puck thousands of times before you get to the goal, and you exhaust your energy quickly. It'll take you many frustrating hours to reach the goal.

Now, let's assume you mow the field until the grass in front of you is very short. Each time you hit the puck, it goes twenty feet or more-a huge improvement.

The puck comes in contact with less grass, which means that it travels a longer distance with every strike. You'll still have to work to get the puck to the goal, but you'll achieve your objective more quickly and with less effort.

Finally, let's assume you flood the field with water and freeze it, until the landscape is a smooth plane of ice. Now, the puck will travel hundreds of feet every time you hit it, because the ice doesn't rob the puck of forward momentum-the puck glides along the surface effortlessly.

At this rate, you'll only need to hit the puck a few times before you've achieved the objective, and you'll have a lot more energy when you're done.

Friction is any force or process that removes energy from a system over time. In the presence of friction, it is necessary to continue to add energy to a system to keep it moving at the same rate over time. Unless additional energy is added, friction will slow any system down until it comes to a stop.

Remove Friction, and you increase the system's efficiency.

Every business process has some amount of Friction. The key is to identify areas where Friction currently exists, then experiment with small improvements that will reduce the amount of Friction in the system. Removing small amounts of Friction consistently over time accumulates to large improvements in both quality and efficiency.

Removing even small amounts of Friction from your Marketing, Sales, and Value-Delivery processes can generate major improvements in Profit. For example, retailers like Amazon.com go to enormous lengths to minimize the amount of effort it takes for a customer to place an order. From allowing customers to purchase items with a single click (which automatically charges the order to the customer’s default address and credit card on file) to automatically recommending related items for purchase, Amazon aims to make it as easy as possible for their customers to buy online.

Amazon Prime, a service that automatically upgrades every order a customer places to two-day shipping, is a textbook example of the benefits of reducing Friction. In exchange for a small annual fee, the Prime customers receive their purchases by mail in two days or less, without spending time in a retail store.

When a customer signs up for Amazon Prime, the customer’s average annual order volume increases by 150%, and 82% of Prime members choose to purchase items on Amazon even when the item is less expensive at a competing retailers. As a result, orders from Amazon Prime customers total an estimated 20% of the company’s overall US sales… all from finding new ways to reduce Friction in the buying process.

Introducing Friction intentionally can sometimes encourage people to behave in a certain way or make a particular decision.

For example, adding a small amount of Friction to your returns process, like requiring the customer to provide a receipt or explain the reason for the return, can decrease the number of people who return your product.

You don't want to add too much, since that can negatively impact your Reputation (customers get angry if you make them work too hard for a refund), but a little Friction in the right place can prevent frivolous returns.

Work on removing friction from your business system where appropriate, and you'll generate better results for less effort.

Questions About 'Friction'


"The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum."

Frances E. Willard, educator and suffragist who spearheaded the campaign to adopt the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution


From Chapter 11:

Understanding Systems


https://personalmba.com/friction/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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