Friction is Good

“Online life is so delicious because it is socializing with almost no friction.” So remarks David Brooks in a recent op-ed column in The New York Times. Mr. Brooks goes on to discuss differences between the online “cocktail party” environment and the “book club” environment of offline learning: the search for meaning, context, understanding and wisdom.

What thoughts does the above information trigger? Does it lead you to wonder whether a no friction environment is really good for your organization even if it were possible? If you decide that no friction is neither achievable nor a worthwhile objective, what alternatives might have a better impact on business and people?

How about intentional conflict? …neither knock-down negative confrontations nor quiet acquiescence but direct confrontations among respectful and respected colleagues.

To build constructive conflict:

  • Coach and train your team to manage conflicts they encounter.
  • Expect others to work things out.
  • Encourage dissent.
    • Create teams with diverse expertise, approaches and background.
    • Schedule and plan for discussions of tasks, behaviors and issues of concern.
  • Follow up to assure the immediate concern – and the underlying cause – have been addressed.