Friction as a good thing?

This conversation came up in @simon_tomes’s TestYak twitter space a couple of weeks ago. We were talking aboutbugs in processes, and one of the questions from FullSnackTester was about encouraging people to jump on in progress tickets instead of picking up new ones and adding to the amount of work in progress.

One of the things that came to my mind was making it easier to jump on in progress work instead of new work, which lead me to think about friction as a force for good.

Friction is something that makes a process slower or makes it more difficult or require more energy, but sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes a stopping or slowing down point provides a way to reflect on what you’re doing, and if that makes the most sense.

Friction provides grip, and I think this can also be a metaphor employed in tech. Sticking to a process can again provide the points we need to make sure we’re still on the right path.

I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on friction in processes and where it can serve a greater purpose.


Edit: I didn’t thought about friction in processes specially. I have to rethink.

To me any friction should be solved ‘good enough’. Don’t worry there is nearly an endless amount of friction.
Sadly some/many people try to avoid friction by short-term actions. Which afterwards creates even more friction.

I see it useful to resolve concrete instances of friction in long-term, to improve in general.
There will always come friction on pro level, therefore I don’t want to bother much with newbie level.


I might have been ? The context of the chat was around process friction. I identified with it more in context of customer friction being bad, A topic that Stuart C talks about. But process friction can be being good when it’s light. Because most of the process friction we get is about barriers to anyone making mistakes, kind of like guard rails on the motorway. Now we know that nobody drives their car using the guard rails, so why do we have hard rails in our processes? Well it’s often to prevent screwups. This week I have started to think around how people make decisions, and the goal of process friction is counter to how humans tend to think. Most humans act based on positives, not on negatives, and this ends up making us terrible at judging risk in decisions, humans like to weigh positives, not negatives. Process guard rails are the “hard-negatives”. I’m not going to finish this thought, it’s kinda clear I hope.


Isn’t it eventually about guidance and motivation?
If you want developers to jump on in progress work instead of new work you have to motivate them to do so. With carrot and stick.
The friction might be the stick, giving them motivation to avoid new work.

Would be the (Scrum) daily an example of such a friction you want to create?


Please don’t motivate people with carrot and stick!

Why Carrots and Sticks model is in trouble

In his book Pink summarizes 7 “Deadly Flaws” that the “Carrot and Stick” model can have.

Grey_box.png Daniel H. Pink summary of Deadly Flaws with Carrots and Sticks

We might try to boost innovation and creativity by setting incentives. But what actually can happen is that we concentrate the minds more leading to narrowed thinking and lower creativity. With contingent “if-then” rewards we make people to forfeit part of their autonomy, which takes away part of their motivation. Overall the “Stick and Carrot” model is built on the extrinsic rewards (money, fame, grades) instead of the intrinsic motivation."

“You can only provide conditions in which the other person is more likely to be motivated than demotivated.”

Source: We all know that “Carrot and Stick” model is outdated | Tietoevry

The next entry in the series is about helping employees find purpose to motivate them.
So let’s talk about purpose, and I would throw in a discussion of how it makes people feel - to be the one starting new things, vs being the one left to finish what others did not feel like they want/could/should help complete before starting something new. That’s what I would attempt to do!


Please don’t motivate people with carrot and stick!

I really don’t meant it in a bad way, with extrinsic rewards.
I should have done parenthesis around it as I meant it more as phrase than as actual concept.

I intended what you have quoted:
“You can only provide conditions in which the other person is more likely to be motivated than demotivated.”

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I’m hardly the ‘empath’ in most situations, but from the limited reading I have lately been doing about computer games and empathy, is that humans like to take action based on positives, not negatives. It might well be some hard coded survival instinct to go for “good things” as a way of preventing stagnation in species. So humans are merely ignoring negatives in decision situations.

We notice this low-friction design in input forms as well lately, forms are more likely to hold complete and accurate data if we improve the experience for users. Absence of friction achieves a goal.

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