Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

385. Defeating Workplace Friction w/ Huggy Rao

In this episode of The Brainy Business podcast, Huggy Rao, a distinguished professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, shares profound insights on the concept of workplace friction and its impact on organizational dynamics. Huggy’s extensive research and expertise in organizational behavior and management bring a unique perspective to the discussion, emphasizing the critical role of leaders in managing workplace obstacles effectively. Throughout the episode, Huggy dissects the complexities of workplace friction, from the detrimental effects of time poverty on decision-making to the strategic implementation of good and bad obstacles in organizations. 

His compelling anecdotes and practical examples underscore the need for leaders to navigate obstacles thoughtfully and promote a balanced approach to friction management. By delving into the nuances of adding and subtracting friction in decision-making and problem-solving contexts, Huggy provides invaluable guidance for managers and leaders seeking to optimize employee engagement and drive organizational success. This episode is a must-listen for managers and leaders in organizations looking to enhance decision-making processes, foster a culture of curiosity and generosity, and strategically manage workplace friction for improved performance and employee well-being.

In this episode:

  • Analyze workplace friction to identify and overcome organizational obstacles, enhancing team productivity and efficiency.
  • Improve decision-making by understanding the impact of time poverty and implementing effective time management strategies for enhanced productivity.
  • Recognize the importance of both good and bad obstacles in the workplace, and learn how to leverage them to foster growth and innovation within the organization.
  • Implement proven strategies for reducing workplace friction, leading to a more harmonious and collaborative work environment.
  • Foster creativity by embracing and managing constructive friction in the workplace, unlocking the full potential of your team’s innovative capabilities.
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00:00:00 – Introduction,
Dr. Huggy Rao introduces the concept of friction in organizations and its impact on decision making and productivity. Explains the difference between bad friction and good friction.

00:02:28 – Impact of Friction on Decision Making
Huggy discusses the impact of time poverty and the addition bias on decision making in organizations. Emphasizes the importance of removing bad obstacles and introducing good obstacles to improve productivity.

00:12:36 – Importance of Addressing Small Friction
Huggy shares the example of reducing a single mouse click for nurses in hospitals and its significant impact on saving time. Emphasizes the importance of addressing small friction to gain momentum for addressing larger issues.

00:14:15 – Mowing the Lawn in Organizations
Huggy discusses the concept of “mowing the lawn” in organizations, addressing small issues that are often overlooked. Shares examples of companies saving significant time by focusing on small friction and giving the gift of time back to employees.

00:16:05 – Introducing Good Friction
Huggy discusses the importance of introducing good friction to prevent bad friction in organizations. Shares a case study of AstraZeneca saving 2 million hours to give the gift of time back to employees, resulting in improved productivity and service.

00:16:59 – Adding and Subtracting Friction
Huggy discusses the importance of adding constraints to combat the tendency to constantly add. He shares examples of how adding friction can be beneficial in decision-making, creativity, and complex tasks.

00:17:46 – The Value of Good Friction
Huggy highlights the value of good friction in decision-making, creative work, and complex tasks. He emphasizes the need to add obstacles to slow down decisions and foster deliberation in certain situations.

00:19:22 – Friction Forensics
The concept of friction forensics is introduced, with examples such as the five-person investment committee at Andreas and Horowitz and the importance of constraints in the creative process. Huggy Rao also shares examples of adding friction to prevent the wrong actions, such as in a banking scenario.

00:24:15 – Constructive Friction in Healthcare
Huggy discusses the use of constructive friction in healthcare, citing the example of how a simple ten-minute memo requirement for opioid prescriptions significantly reduced opioid prescriptions in the state of Massachusetts.

00:27:59 – Reducing Bad Friction
Huggy highlights examples of reducing bad friction for customers, such as the trail guide at the DMV and the introduction of self-operated kiosks at local grocery stores for DMV transactions. He also discusses the use of AI to help reduce friction for network engineers in a large networking company.

00:33:05 – The Impact of Jargon Monoxide
Huggy and Melina discuss the concept of jargon monoxide and its negative impact on curiosity and generosity. They highlight the importance of reframing jargon to make messages more accessible and meaningful.

00:34:47 – The Power of Clear Communication
Huggy shares a powerful story about a submarine company CEO who effectively communicated his vision to the employees without using any jargon. The example emphasizes the importance of clear communication and the impact it can have on organizational culture.

00:39:41 – The Role of Profanity in Communication
Huggy discusses how profanity can sometimes be more effective in ensuring everyone understands a message, compared to using complex jargon or vague phrases. He shares a humorous example to illustrate this point.

00:43:28 – The Help Pyramid for Friction Fixing
Huggy explains the “help pyramid” framework for addressing friction in organizations, from reframing communication to organizational and neighborhood design. He emphasizes the need to focus on practical solutions rather than psychologizing the consequences of friction.

00:47:40 – Making Work Less of a Grind
Huggy encourages readers to visit his website and engage with the content from the book “The Friction Project,” emphasizing the goal of making the world of work less of a grind by becoming more choiceful in addressing friction.

00:49:20 – The Power of Generosity and Curiosity
Huggy and Melina discuss the importance of curiosity and generosity in reducing friction. Being curious about the user and focusing on their needs is an act of generosity that can lead to reciprocity and desired actions.

00:50:03 – Impact of Friction on User Experience
They emphasize the significance of considering the user’s perspective and minimizing unnecessary friction. Being generous by making processes easier for the user can lead to desired outcomes, such as form completion or product purchase.

00:50:41 – Leveraging Friction for Business Strength
Huggy and Melina explore how businesses can use friction to their advantage, either by removing it or adding it strategically. They discuss the potential for friction to strengthen businesses and drive success.

00:51:10 – Conclusion,
Melina’s top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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