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I’ve got pins in my hand and screws in my knee.
Like anybody who’s been around a few decades (or more), my body has taken some wear and tear.
I’m extremely grateful for the good health I do have, but there are places in my body that sometimes feel stiff. Stuck. Sticky.
My companies are like that, too. And, I’m betting, so is yours.
Where in your business do things feel hard?
Think about the challenges you run into over and over in the course of doing business. The routine activities that seem to take more effort than they should. The processes that seem too difficult to follow. The decisions you make that never lead anywhere.
You’re not imagining things.
While the cause of friction in your business may not be the “wear and tear” of life, it can have an impact on your company all the same.
Friction can cause customers to churn, lead to employee turnover, and reduce profitability.
So what, exactly, can you do about it?
Identify Friction in Your Business
As with most changes, the first step is admitting you have a problem. If you’ve come up against an unsolvable problem—especially if you’re seeing a pattern repeat for a couple of quarters (or several years in many cases I’ve seen)—make sure your leadership team calls it out as a friction point.
Then, you can decide what to do with it.
Anything can be a friction point in your business, but here are a few common ones we see all the time in our consulting work:
People - toxic employee
Operations - CRM usage
Strategy - pricing
Finance - overdue AR
How to Handle Friction Points
Once you identify the friction point, you have two courses of action. The first might surprise you.
1. Acknowledge it and move on.
Yep, sometimes the best thing you can do with a friction point is…nothing. Drag it into the light, make sure everyone knows it exists, and then live with the fact that you’ll be swimming against the current in that particular area of the business.
Why would you choose not to address a friction point? When it’s never going to change. That usually means it’s tied into the owner(s) of the company and is personality-driven. It could also show up in certain industries that are highly regulated, for example—there may be friction in doing business that you just can’t get around.
Provided the business isn’t totally broken, you can waste a lot of energy trying to fix something that can’t really be solved.
Instead, let it go as best you can.
2. Eliminate that friction point.
Of course, the ideal solution is to get rid of the friction point to restore a smooth flow in your business. You’ve probably already tried a few tactics to help resolve the issue, so what’s different this time?
You’ll need to make tough decisions (letting someone go, raising prices), get more creative with how you address the issues, or both. That acknowledgement piece is huge as well—it takes your mindset from “this should be working” to “it’s not working, so what are we going to do about it.”
Instead of wishing things were different, you recognize that they aren’t. From there, you can take a different action that might actually solve your problem.
For example, I mentioned CRM usage as a common operational issue. You can beat your team up about it, or you can go with the only solution I’ve ever seen actually work: align CRM compliance with team member compensation. Harder to do, but more effective.
Where Does Your Company Struggle with Friction Points?
Learn to use the word friction and to identify quickly when it shows up in your business. With most friction points, a little bit of obsessive thinking can solve them. And if it’s time to let go and accept the friction, you’ll be the better for knowing that, too.