The most powerful under-acknowledged force in the world. (Tobi Lutke)

I heard the following thoughts on friction and process from Tobi Lutke, co-founder and CEO of Shopify, on the podcast Invest Like The Best. I find Tobi to be extremely insightful and include him on my list of favorite business people. Although the context of this quote was related more specifically to organizational design and company culture, I think the concept is more broadly applicable, and can be used to think about how friction relates to any human interaction, like customer experience as an example:

The concept of friction is probably the most powerful underacknowldged force in the world of business and products in general… think about process in general… you can actually separate process into two different things:

  • There’s process that makes something previously impossible possible
  • Or makes something that was previously possible 10X easier

Both are good processes. But that’s a set. Anything that doesn’t accomplish either of those two things is bad process. The only reason why you have that process is because you’re trying to get people to act in some meaningful way different from their intuition. It’s not about, “hey, [this is] enabling something new”… it’s about, “I would like you to do this particular thing… in that particular way because that makes it easier for me”. But by that you’re actually creating an un-intuitive process for everyone, and somehow we’re okay with that.