Your Turn: How Can You Remove the Friction?

Recently, a number of my colleagues and I took a trip to Silicon Valley, where we met with some great established companies and some very cool start-ups who are leading disruption in many areas. The purpose of our trip was to explore the Valley, its culture, and its spirit of innovation and growth.

One of my favorite lessons from our visit centered on “removing the friction.” In the Valley, they look for opportunities to speed up decision making and action, and they don’t shy away from ways to do that. Inside established companies and brands, there is policy and procedure, and rightly so. You have to protect what you’ve built. But the truth is, policy and procedure slow down decision making and creates friction, often preventing a growth mindset both at the individual and company level.

How can we remove the friction?

Consider these  simple ideas:

  • Treat employees as adults and empower them. Stop tracking vacation and trust your employees to self-monitor. You’ll  be amazed how productive and creative people can be when they are empowered with opportunities that they can control, yet don’t have to sacrifice a personal life to achieve.
  • Obtain early funding. Most companies in the Valley have reduced complexity around seed money and in many cases they do not employ a long legal contract process. Clearly investors are taking risks as well, probably because they believe in the success model of innovative thinking.
  • Adapt to changing workplaces. Focus on the work, not on where it gets done. Let’s get creative and leverage all of the tools available to us today to stay connected to our teams, our clients and our partners, while limiting physical overhead and location expense.
  • Be open to flexibility and action. Be willing to pivot without worrying about the original idea and investment. Learn from it and act immediately – keep driving towards results.

I am truly inspired by what I heard in the Valley, but there are innovative ideas all around us. I believe there are many more small ways to remove the friction that happens every day. I would love to keep learning and see what I can employ on my own team.

Where is your friction?  What holds you back and what ideas do you have to overcome it?  Please share your ideas below.