You might think that friction is something to avoid, but not when it comes to decision-making. Friction derived from differing views and constructive debates actually helps us prevent ‘groupthink,’ which can stifle creativity and result in bad decisions. It introduces new perspectives and stimulates more creative solutions.

Benefits of Decision-Making Friction:

  1. Checks Assumptions: Forces us to challenge our own ideas and back them up with solid evidence.
  2. Pushes Past Biases: Helps us move beyond our own preferences and consider the bigger picture.
  3. Clarifies Goals: Ensures we understand exactly what we’re aiming for and how we plan to get there.

Leaders can build an environment that thrives on productive friction by:

  • Cultivating Awareness: Teach teams to distinguish between the discomfort of challenging ideas and actual stress from negative interactions.
  • Setting Norms: Make it clear that feedback should target ideas, not people, promoting a safe space for discussion.
  • Rotating Roles: Let different team members take turns being the critic to balance responsibilities and reduce biases.
  • Encouraging Openness: Recognize and praise team members who contribute valuable insights, showing that all input is appreciated.
  • Building Trust: Engage in activities that boost mutual respect and understanding, essential for a trusting team dynamic.

Leaders should embody curiosity and open-mindedness and use strategies like:

  • Brainstorming Sessions: Get everyone throwing ideas into the pot,  with no bias regarding the immediate value or feasibility. 
  • Playing Devil’s Advocate: Challenge ideas to ensure they’re foolproof.
  • Scenario Planning: Think through different outcomes to prepare for the future.

Friction is not something to avoid; it’s a vital tool for better decision-making. By embracing and managing friction, leaders not only improve the quality of decisions but also foster a culture of deep thinking and continuous improvement. When done right, friction ensures decisions are well-considered and inclusive, leading to greater success.