Self Help

The Friction Project - Robert I. Sutton

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 56 min read



  • The authors investigate the problem of “friction” in organizations, which refers to forces that make it harder, slower, or more complicated to get work done. Examples include excessive emails, long bureaucratic forms, pointless meetings, and outdated rules and procedures.

  • Too much friction grinds people down, wastes time, and undermines productivity and innovation. However, the goal should not be a “frictionless” organization, as some level of friction is necessary to prevent rash decisions or excessive risk-taking.

  • The authors conducted research through case studies, teaching, and workshops to understand both the negative impacts of friction as well as potential solutions. Their goal is to help leaders identify and fix specific friction problems in their own organizations.

  • Personal experiences at Stanford University also inspired their interest, as they encounter long approval processes, complex rules, and other sources of frustration.

  • While e-commerce platforms make some things very easy, organizations also need appropriate speed bumps to prevent hastily implemented or half-baked ideas from being rushed out prematurely without sufficient consideration of risks.

  • Google Glass was unveiled with skydivers wearing and demonstrating the technology, receiving applause. However, the product had many hardware and software bugs, poor battery life, and unresolved privacy issues. Reviewers called it one of the worst products ever.

  • Too much focus on speed and efficiency can actually hamper creativity and innovation. Companies like Disney and Pixar have found that taking time for iteration and working through problems is important for creating great products.

  • Leaders often get excited about the latest buzzwords and management trends without properly applying them, which causes disruptions and wastes time for employees.

  • Technology meant to reduce friction, like communication tools, can instead enable leaders to over-communicate and burden employees with long, unnecessary messages and tasks if not used properly.

  • Building strong relationships and commitment requires time and effort that developing superficial interactions through brief conversations. Removing too much friction can hamper meaningful human connections.

  • The authors started researching organizational friction after becoming frustrated by obstacles at their own university and other workplaces. They believe leaders should work to reduce unhelpful friction and introduce useful “speed bumps” to guide progress.

The article describes how the authors researched and raised awareness about friction (wasted time and effort) through writing articles for major publications that were widely read. They also taught workshops and classes on friction reduction to organizations.

Key points made include:

  • Classic management writings from the 1950s/70s identified how adding more people to projects often backfires by creating coordination problems and delays.
  • Recent books like “Sludge” and “Administrative Burden” document how bureaucracy creates hurdles for the public.
  • Workshops with companies found high levels of “pain” from rituals, meetings, and paperwork.
  • Case studies showed how streamlining forms and processes at agencies significantly reduced clients’ frustration and increased services access.
  • The research and experience informed the approach presented in the upcoming book on identifying and reducing unnecessary friction in organizations.

In summary, the article outlines how the authors collaborated with companies and researched friction challenges to develop solutions and spread awareness, which informed their book on the topic. It provides background on classic and modern literature in the area.

The passage discusses how to approach friction fixing in organizations in a systematic way. It gives examples of people and teams who have successfully identified and removed unnecessary complexity and friction points.

Some key points:

  • Friction fixers take responsibility for identifying issues that cause wasted time or inefficiency and leading efforts to improve them. Examples given include a healthcare system’s GROSS program and Project Re:form.

  • It’s important to involve frontline workers and customers in nominating areas for improvement. Simply adding more features or complexity is not the answer.

  • Sometimes friction fixers must slow things down, such as when a situation is confusing or unstable. This allows for careful assessment before taking action.

  • Rules and regulations can be used to prevent unethical or unproven actions, as in the Theranos example.

  • Organization culture should promote accountability for friction fixing amongst all employees. Leaders must set this tone and reward improvement efforts.

  • The ultimate goal is to make the right things easier and wrong things harder, focusing on continual optimization of workflows and processes. This requires an ingrained mindset across the organization.

  • The chapter explores the idea of being a “trustee” of others’ time - focusing on identifying and removing obstacles that waste people’s time and cause frustration.

  • Examples are given of leaders who acted as trustees, like Churchill urging concise memos and a teaching team member saying “I hate wasting people’s time.”

  • The concept of a “cone of friction” is introduced, representing the people a leader or person can potentially impact through making things easier or harder.

  • Examples show trustees working to remove unnecessary meetings, inject constructive friction to slow things down when needed, and create obstacles to discourage harmful behaviors like opioid overprescribing.

  • Being a trustee can apply to anyone, not just top leaders, as demonstrated by a DMV employee helping streamline the process. Overall the chapter defines what it means to focus on being a good steward of how others spend their limited time.

The passage discusses five “commitments” or mottos that can help people acting as “trustees” reduce friction and protect people’s time. The first commitment is that reducing friction requires constant vigilance, like mowing the lawn, as friction issues easily reemerge without ongoing effort. The second is that organizations should be treated as “malleable prototypes” that can be changed or improved as needed. The third commitment celebrates and rewards “doers” who take real action, rather than “posers” who talk a lot but don’t follow through.

The passage then describes some common “tricks” or hollow acts that posers engage in to appear busy without actual productive action, such as making vague promises, holding meetings just to talk, blaming others without solutions, or outsourcing work to consultants to avoid responsibility. Overall the mottos emphasize the ongoing work needed to reduce friction and the importance of supporting those who take real steps toward solutions over those who simply talk about ideas.

  • Some campaigners made enthusiastic promises to help with a campaign, but did not follow through on their plans and promises. Their language was vague and impractical, wasting others’ time and energy.

  • It’s better to give feedback constructively rather than just criticizing. While criticism can seem more intelligent, positive feedback is more helpful for making improvements.

  • When issues arise, it’s better to focus on solutions rather than blame. Cultures that blame and punish those who point out problems end up pressuring people to hide issues rather than fix them. This can have serious consequences as it did at Boeing.

  • Boeing’s culture put revenue and stock prices over safety. Employees who raised concerns felt afraid and were sometimes publicly shamed. This secrecy about design flaws ultimately contributed to two deadly 737 MAX crashes that could have been prevented. An open, learning culture focused on quality and improvement is safer than one driven by blame.

  • Boeing made decisions prioritizing short-term profits over safety in the development of the 737 MAX aircraft, resulting in design flaws that contributed to two crashes killing hundreds.

  • Researchers like Amy Edmondson have shown that organizations like Boeing that punish employees for admitting mistakes and undermine “psychological safety” can seriously damage quality, cost, and safety. This led to disasters like the 737 MAX crashes.

  • Organizations should instead embrace a culture of openly fixing problems without punishment. Mistakes should be opportunities to learn and improve systems, rather than to find and blame individuals.

  • When problems are hidden or worked around instead of addressed, it can seriously endanger patients, as one study of hospital failures found. Yet these behaviors were often rewarded.

  • To truly prevent issues, organizations should honor those who proactively identify and address weaknesses before failures occur, not just praise those who react to problems that have already manifested. Upkeep and maintenance are also important to acknowledge and appreciate.

  • Authentic pride from conscientious efforts to help others is more constructive than hubristic pride based on feelings of inherent superiority. Friction fixing is best powered by the former through persistent, humble work over time to continuously improve.

  • Studies have found it is difficult to distinguish authentic pride from hubristic pride based on outward expressions alone. Fake “friction fixers” may appear proud of their work but are really puffed up by their own rhetoric.

  • Beware the temptation to seek immediate gratification from hubris rather than taking pride in actually making positive changes.

  • Organizations like IKEA have harnessed the “IKEA effect” - making tasks difficult generates a sense of accomplishment that leads people to value the results more. However, this can be taken too far by wasting people’s time unnecessarily.

  • Determining when to reduce or increase friction requires weighing an organization’s goals, skills, resources, impacts on different people, and whether the changes are ethical.

  • It’s important to determine if something is the right thing to do and if the organization has the ability to do it well before deciding how much friction to apply. Failure needs to be safe and instructive.

  • Established safe and effective processes should have minimal friction, while dangerous or unproven things may need more barriers. Waiting to act until learning more can avoid mistakes made by early adopters.

  • Creativity thrives on struggle, failure, argument and modification of ideas, not on efficiency and avoiding mistakes. Imposing too much structure can kill creativity.

  • Jerry Seinfeld declined consultants’ help finding a more “efficient” way to write Seinfeld, believing efficiency would do it the “wrong way.” Creativity requires taking the harder path.

  • Google used to subject job candidates to endless interviews, but Laszlo Bock limited interviews to 4 without approval, reducing burden with little resistance.

  • Adding some “process friction” like getting radiologist approval for certain medical tests reduced unnecessary tests, patient costs and time, without harming health.

  • Too much instant gratification from modern tech like Amazon risks less thoughtful decision-making. A bit of inconvenience forces consideration of “Should we?” not just “Can we?”

  • Where friction is good or bad depends on perspective. Extra tests benefited doctors and hospitals financially but burdened overworked doctors and increased patient time. Sabotage uses friction to harm opponents but helps one’s own side.

The manual provides instructions for simple sabotage techniques that can be used to lower worker morale and slow down production in enemy factories and other facilities during wartime. Some examples given include finding reasons for trains to run slow or stop unnecessarily, insisting that all matters be over-complicated and referred to large committees to delay decisions, and giving praise and promotions to inefficient workers while complaining about efficient ones.

While these sabotage tactics were effectively used against Nazi Germany during World War 2, the manual warns about misusing friction and delays for selfish or unethical reasons. Some examples given of intentionally manipulative designs include websites that make it very difficult for users to cancel subscriptions or memberships. However, the Netflix story shows that making it easy for customers to leave can actually benefit companies in the long run by getting better feedback and retaining satisfied customers.

In summary, while properly applied friction can achieve strategic goals like sabotage of enemies, companies should avoid intentionally misleading or trapping customers. And sometimes slowing down processes is necessary to rectify past problems and set up future successes, as evidenced by the creation of the Visa credit card network. Both gas and brakes are needed to accomplish ambitious goals effectively over the long term.

  • Visa is an international payment network that enables cardholders to use their Visa-branded credit and debit cards to make purchases at millions of merchants worldwide.

  • Participating banks issue Visa cards to customers and use a common clearinghouse system to process transactions and payments between banks. Customers can use their Visa cards at any merchant that accepts Visa, globally.

  • There are now over 3.9 billion Visa cards issued by nearly 15,000 financial institutions accepted at over 80 million merchant locations, processing more than $14 trillion in transactions annually.

  • Dee Hock, Visa’s founder, recognized that the fragmented banking system was harming the credit card business. He created Visa to inject “friction” by developing a cooperative network where banks worked together using common rules and business processes, making it easier to work together and harder to break the agreements. This laid the foundation for Visa’s global success.

  • Helping organizations and people deal with “friction” involves both preventing problems through systems design, as well as helping people cope with current issues through reframing challenges in a positive light, navigating obstacles, and protecting people from unnecessary harm. Different levels of involvement are needed depending on one’s position and influence within an organization.

The passage discusses different levels of helping others in a workplace hierarchy called the Help Pyramid. The third level is “shielding,” which involves absorbing and deflecting sources of frustration so that others don’t have to deal with them. This requires courage and self-sacrifice. Shielding can be both a symptom of problems in an organization’s systems, as well as a way to prevent and cure issues by protecting people so they can focus on their work without distractions. Leadership plays an important buffering role by handling intrusions, demands, aggravation and other stresses so that employees below them are not overwhelmed. While shielding can indicate underlying issues, it is also a hallmark of healthy organizations when done well to shield workers and allow them to do their core work efficiently.

  • In stressful work environments, managers who shield their employees from interruptions and unnecessary demands are referred to as “shit umbrellas” - they absorb the negativity from above so employees can focus on their work.

  • At Pixar, the founders put their own jobs on the line to prevent layoffs and protect employees, which was important for allowing Pixar to eventually succeed.

  • Receptionists, assistants, security guards, and other frontline roles act as gatekeepers who absorb frustration from customers/clients so that others like doctors can focus on their core work.

  • Neighborhood design refers to making small, localized changes within an organization rather than trying to overhaul the entire system. For example, one Microsoft team shortened meeting times to reduce virtual fatigue.

  • The LaunchPad class at Stanford imposes constructive friction on students through a rigorous screening/selection process and timeline to incubate real business ventures in just 10 weeks. This model has successfully spawned over 100 startups.

  • LaunchPad is a popular Stanford class taught by Perry Chen and Jeremy Fiance that requires students to make a serious commitment to building a startup, including not missing any classes, not complaining about workloads, and launching an actual product/service. This level of commitment is uncommon in other Stanford classes.

  • Chen and Fiance believe obstacles and setbacks are important for building viable startups and a supportive community. They have “counseled” underperforming students to drop the class and disbanded non-productive teams.

  • An in-class trade show puts student teams’ prototypes in front of investors and critics, prepping them for real-world feedback. Alum Greta Meyer credits this experience with bonding her team and preparing them for FDA approval of their tampon product.

  • Systemic friction fixes aim to impact an entire organization, not just a small part, often requiring senior leadership. Both top-down commands and bottom-up input can drive change, as shown by efforts at Dropbox, Apple, and Hawaii Pacific Health.

  • Standardization across locations is important for safety-critical tasks like pilot checklists, but customization allows teams to solve local problems, as seen when hospitals tried to impose rigid daily meetings on outpatient clinics. Staff improvised better local solutions by “playing jazz” instead of just following instructions.

  • Two clinics switched to weekly team meetings instead of daily ones to reduce time spent away from patients. The Friday meeting looked backwards at previous issues and forward to plan for potential future issues.

  • The third clinic abandoned regular meetings altogether. Staffing was too unpredictable to find a consistent meeting time. Instead, they developed a “Popsicle stick” system where patients received sticks with the names of providers they needed to see. Providers collected the sticks at each visit, and patients left when they ran out of sticks to help coordinate care.

This summarizes the key points about how the clinics addressed communication and coordination challenges with different meeting schedules or a Popsicle stick system based on their situations.

Leaders and organizations can become insensitive to the difficulties faced by those lacking privilege or power due to their positions of influence. Examples are given of executive programs at GM that spared leaders inconveniences, and a special customer service team at Comcast meant to assist VIPs. This privilege can cause leaders to be oblivious to problems with their organizations. It can also foster the beliefs that 1) leaders know everything important about the organization due to their roles, 2) the only way to succeed is to work as hard as leaders perceive they do, and 3) rules don’t apply to those in power. As a result, leaders may heap inconveniences on others and create organizational friction without realizing it. Overcoming this “power poisoning” requires awareness of its effects in order to properly diagnose and remedy problems within the organization.

  • Leaders are often unaware of how their words and actions can be magnified or misinterpreted by subordinates trying to please and protect themselves. Offhand comments can snowball into unnecessary programs or initiatives the leader never intended.

  • This happened at a company when the CEO criticized a rude clerk, prompting a multimillion dollar campaign to improve courtesy that he later deemed a waste. His subordinates over-interpreted his casual complaint.

  • Similarly, bosses sending emails off-hours can unintentionally pressure fast responses due to “email urgency bias.” Clarifying an email is non-urgent can reduce this effect.

  • “Multiplication madness” refers to leaders not considering the cumulative burden of small demands on employees and customers over time. A lengthy email to thousands illustrates this. Shorter, more considerate communication would respect others’ time more.

  • “Decision amnesia” wastes time as leaders revisit settled decisions, undermining confidence and slowing implementation. This happened at a company where the CEO constantly rehashed decisions due to insecurity and valuing talk over action.

  • To address these problems, leaders should be aware their words carry unintended weight. Clarify intentions to avoid misinterpretation. Respect others’ time, value action, and stick to decisions for smooth implementation.

  • Patty McCord, former chief talent officer at Netflix, would always ask at the end of executive meetings if any decisions were made and how they would be communicated. This helped ensure everyone was clear on what was decided and prevented differing understandings.

  • “Cookie licking” refers to when leaders or groups lay claim to projects or decisions they have little intention or ability to actually work on, blocking others. This caused delays and inefficiencies at Microsoft under Ballmer.

  • “Sham participation” is when leaders pretend to solicit and consider input from stakeholders like employees, but have already made decisions and ignore suggestions. This wastes people’s time and damages trust.

  • Even well-intentioned efforts by leaders to help can backfire if they don’t understand problems fully. Asking frontline staff repeatedly about complex, entrenched issues through “management by walking around” sometimes undermined efforts instead of helping, according to research on healthcare teams.

  • Small problems are generally easier for leaders to help with through informal checking in, but bigger systemic issues often require more rigorous analysis and priority-setting to truly improve.

The passage discusses several methods that leaders can use to reduce cluelessness and become more effective. It advocates for less talking and more listening on the part of leaders. Leaders should measure how much they talk versus others in meetings and ratio of questions asked to statements made. Taking time to observe employees doing their jobs through “ride-alongs” and shadowing can provide valuable insights into problems and solutions. Leaders can also help employees or do their jobs themselves to better understand challenges. Downward deference, where leaders defer to local expertise, gain trust, and flatten hierarchies, is linked to better performance according to research. But hierarchies also have their uses - the best leaders know when to delegate and when to assert authority depending on the situation. Flexing between these approaches rather than treating hierarchies as static is most effective. Overall, the passage promotes leaders reducing power behaviors, actively listening to employees, and tapping into local expertise as ways to overcome cluelessness.

  • Organizations and people naturally tend to favor addition over subtraction when looking for solutions or ways to improve. This is known as “addition bias” or “addition sickness.”

  • Subtraction is often a neglected way of thinking that can lead to more effective solutions. Removing unnecessary complexity, rules, meetings, etc. can improve things just as much or more than always adding more.

  • Universities in particular have been shown to accumulate administrative bloat over time, with more administrators and staff added than faculty. This adds costs and regulations without clear benefits.

  • Incentive structures in organizations often reward addition more than prudent subtraction. Individuals are motivated to justify expanding their teams/budgets rather than streamlining.

  • The “tragedy of the commons” analogy applies - everyone individually benefits from adding more to themselves, but it collectively harms the whole system over time.

  • Leaders need to actively cultivate a “subtraction mindset” and do regular “good riddance reviews” to audit friction points and remove unnecessary complexity, outdated policies, unproductive meetings and so on. Editing out non-essentials can improve organizational effectiveness.

Here is a summary of the key points about finding subtraction targets from unnecessary or low-value activities:

  • Identify “stupid stuff” that frustrates efficiency or slows things down and considers removing rules. Hawaii Pacific Health had healthcare workers nominate anything in their electronic records system that was poorly designed, unnecessary, or just plain stupid.

  • Evaluate meetings by having employees rate each standing meeting on value and effort. This identified over 500 low-value meetings at Asana and over 150 low-value, high-effort meetings.

  • Measure the time spent on performance reviews and evaluations. Deloitte found their organization spent almost 2 million hours a year just on performance management forms and processes.

  • Audit email practices and policies. The average employee spends 28% of their time on email. Vynamic has a policy to avoid emails evenings/weekends to reduce overload.

  • Conduct user interviews and observations. Civilla identified obstacles through 250+ hours of interviews and observations with citizens filling out forms.

  • Create journey maps to identify bottlenecks. Students mapped a slow, bewildering process for families seeking disability services.

  • Do a “perfectionism audit” to identify tasks with too narrow standards or excessive enforcement.

The summary focuses on identifying sources of unnecessary workload or friction through various methods like interviews, observations, evaluations and audits to target areas for subtraction or streamlining. It does not advocate for any specific subtraction actions.

Here are the key points about cheap as possible in the organization and have the authority, skill, time, and money to subtract (or add) as they fit:

  • Leaders can conduct “subtraction games” where people identify organizational obstacles/friction points and potential solutions to remove them.

  • They can implement tools to repair or remove bad meetings by making them shorter, less frequent, with fewer attendees.

  • Leaders can orchestrate “purges” to rapidly and thoroughly remove broken parts of the organization.

  • Broader “subtraction movements” aim to spread a mindset of identifying and eliminating unnecessary burdens throughout the organization over time.

  • It’s important to celebrate people who avoid adding unnecessary complexity or “stuff” in the first place.

  • Leaders should recruit “subtraction specialists” who are empowered to identify and solve problems with bureaucratic/inefficient processes. This avoids treating friction points as orphan problems.

  • Subtraction can be done through targeted “games”, tools, purges, or broader cultural movements. The goal is to empower people at all levels to simplify processes and remove organizational friction where possible.

  • The passage describes using a technique called the “Subtraction Game” to help organizations identify unnecessary obstacles, frustrations, and inefficiencies. It has been used with over a hundred organizations, including large tech companies, law firms, and non-profits.

  • In the game, individuals brainstorm on their own then discuss as a group targets to “subtract” or remove. Groups then outline plans to implement 1-2 ideas. Sometimes changes are made on the spot.

  • Examples of ideas included trimming lengthy emails, eliminating unused meetings and equipment, simplifying policies, and even firing unhelpful board members.

  • In some cases, leadership took action, like offering bonuses for implementing ideas or setting specific removal goals. However, not all groups follow through due to lack of power or will.

  • Other strategies discussed for addressing overwhelmed schedules include meeting audits, banning interruptions for set times each day, and experimenting with “async weeks” without meetings.

  • Deep organizational “purges” spearheaded by leaders, like Lou Gerstner removing IBM’s fragmented marketing or Steve Jobs trimming Apple’s confusing product line, can also enact widespread removals of broken parts.

So in summary, the passage advocates using structured brainstorming and accountability to help organizations identify and enact strategic reductions of unused practices, assets, and policies to improve efficiency.

Although management gurus often criticize leaders who take a strict “command and control” approach, as Lou Gerstner and Steve Jobs did at IBM and Apple respectively, sometimes that type of leadership is exactly what a broken organization needs to be turned around. At IBM, Gerstner utilized direct orders and accountability to overhaul the dysfunctional culture and bureaucracy that was plaguing the company. Similarly, when he returned to Apple in the late 1990s, Steve Jobs imposed his vision and high standards through an autocratic management style, which was critical for reversing Apple’s decline. However, for an organization that is not in crisis, like the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca was not, a top-down directive approach would likely backfire and not gain employee buy-in. A bottom-up, collaborative “subtraction movement” led by Pushkala Subramanian to simplify processes and save employee time through small, localized changes proved more effective for AstraZeneca’s decentralized culture and needs.

The chapter discusses coordination problems - failures of communication, collaboration, and integration of actions between different parts of an organization. This can lead to issues like designing a product that can’t actually be built.

The chapter uses stories from a cancer hospital as an example. Specialists focused too much on their own work and not enough on how it connected to others. Oncologists dismissed side effects as someone else’s problem rather than coordinating care. Leaders emphasized building strong departments but not coordinating between them.

This led to coordination neglect - failing to consider how different parts must work together. People with component focus fixate too much on their own work and see other parts as secondary. Experts also suffer from “the curse of knowledge” - they assume others understand information as easily as they do due to their expertise.

Overall, the chapter examines why coordination problems occur due to cognitive biases, organizational design flaws, and incentives that reward individual work over collaboration. The cancer hospital shows how even good intentions can still lead to coordination neglect without addressing integration between different roles and responsibilities.

  • Technical experts are prone to overconfidence and believe their narrow technical knowledge makes them experts in all areas. They often oversimplify other fields and underestimate the challenges of design, manufacturing, sales, customer needs, etc.

  • “Partition focus” happens when leaders focus too much on assembling talented individuals and parts without enough focus on integration and coordination. This lacked integration plagued the US Navy early in WWII as they failed to adopt the British system of centralized intelligence sharing between ships/planes to track and attack U-boats.

  • Leaders can avert coordination neglect by rewarding collaboration over competition. They set the stage for cooperation by building cultures where people help rather than undermine colleagues. Microsoft struggled with this under Ballmer but improved under Nadella by changing rewards from individual rankings to cross-team work.

  • Flexing the hierarchy and signaling when debate/criticism is welcome can help discourage treating coworkers as enemies. Healthcare CEOs kicked off meetings with vision/goals but then allowed open discussion for better integration of ideas.

  • The CEO invited everyone in the room to share their opinions on a new brand logo, which led to a lively discussion with various facts, recommendations, and concerns being raised. The CEO minimized their power by moving to the back of the room and speaking last.

  • However, the best CEOs studied would step in and take charge when disagreements became personal or unproductive in order to clarify expectations and keep things on track.

  • Friction fixers motivate people by making goals into “hot causes” that tap into shared emotions like anger and pride. This was demonstrated when cancer patient activists convinced hospital staff of the hardships caused by complex billing, motivating them to improve coordination of care.

  • Onboarding is important for coordination. Rather than just training jobs, companies should explain how roles intersect and how the organization works systemically. Harvard Business School does extensive onboarding of new faculty through a three-day START program to navigate their complex culture.

  • When the Affordable Care Act website launched in 2013, it was plagued by technical issues that prevented many users from signing up for health insurance.

  • The website was developed by numerous contractors, but no single contractor was responsible for overall performance or ensuring the site was operational. This created an “orphan coordination problem.”

  • Todd Park, the US Chief Technology Officer, brought in Presidential Innovation Fellows from Silicon Valley to help address the issues. They worked with government contractors and bureaucrats.

  • Through careful monitoring, automated testing, and a collaborative approach, they were able to patch the system and bring order to the site, fixing bugs in a methodical way. This showed how different groups could work together despite conflicts.

  • The passage discusses how leaders like Carl Liebert have succeeded by bypassing hierarchy and directly engaging experts on the front lines. For big initiatives to succeed, it’s important to understand how systems actually work from the perspective of employees, customers and others involved.

  • Cancer care administrators at CarePoint Health wanted to help coordinate cancer patients’ care by scheduling appointments and referrals between different specialists and services. However, the specialist department leaders resisted giving up authority over their own scheduling.

  • CarePoint administrators worked to coordinate “auxiliary services” like referring, scheduling, and coordinating support for cancer patients to reduce problems caused by uncoordinated care, known as the “cancer tax.” They took special effort to coordinate complex cases requiring multiple specialists.

  • CarePoint leaders continue meeting monthly with patients to develop solutions to ongoing coordination challenges, similar to an endless game of “Whac-A-Mole.”

  • Coordinating different departments requires generalist knowledge of the entire organization. CarePoint nurses have broad cancer center knowledge to connect patients to the right help. Employees with varied experience, like a BART operations manager who had held multiple roles, are especially skilled at coordination.

  • Fixing handoffs between departments, shifts, and roles is important to reduce errors caused by poor communication. Briefings and checklists can help standardize important information exchange. Training medical residents on standardized handoff methods reduced preventable patient errors.

  • Coordination teams expect surprises and improvise by shifting roles and routines as needed, akin to changing from a planned “sheet music” to improvised “jazz” in response to unexpected events. Reducing the need for coordination can also help by designing less interdependent systems.

Here is a summary of the key points about jargon monoxide from the passage:

  • Jargon monoxide refers to convoluted, impenetrable language used in organizations that adds confusion rather than clarity. It fuels misunderstanding and makes collaboration difficult.

  • The passage identifies four main types of jargon monoxide: buzzword bingo, conceptual confusion, pretension, and measurable mush.

  • Buzzword bingo involves stringing together business lexicon without real meaning. Conceptual confusion uses abstract concepts that are poorly defined. Pretension uses needlessly complex language to seem intelligent. Measurable mush involves quantifying things that can’t truly be measured.

  • All types of jargon monoxide undermine accountability by obscuring what people are actually supposed to do. It can reward people for using impressive language over real action.

  • To combat jargon monoxide, leaders should simply stop using meaningless language. They should also directly challenge others who use it. Finally, they should link language to concrete behaviors and outcomes to increase clarity and accountability.

The key idea is that impenetrable organizational jargon, or “jargon monoxide,” fuels confusion rather than clarity, making collaboration and accountability difficult. The passage recommends abandoning unclear language and linking talk to measurable actions.

  • Convoluted jargon, also called “convoluted crap”, refers to using more words and complicated language than necessary. This can obscure meaning and overwhelm people.

  • Using convoluted language has some benefits for those who produce it, like appearing more creative and generating more billable work. But it significantly hampers communication and coordination.

  • Holacracy, a governance system used by some companies, is cited as an example of convoluted jargon. Its constitution is thousands of words of complex rules that are very difficult for most people to understand fully.

  • While some praise Holacracy’s flexibility, companies like Zappos, Medium, and Buffer struggled with how time-consuming and rigid the system became due to its convoluted language. Zappos in particular moved away from strict adherence to Holacracy over time.

  • In summary, convoluted jargon presents barriers to clear understanding and efficient work, even if it provides benefits to those who produce such language. Holacracy exemplifies these challenges due to its extremely convoluted constitutional language.

Here is a summary of the key points in three ways:

First, complex organizational models and documents like Holacracy can be abandoned or simplified to make them easier to understand and implement. Companies like Buffer, Medium and Zappos chose to abandon Holacracy, while others like Convert rely on specialists to help translate the concepts.

Second, frameworks like Holacracy can be edited and refined to improve clarity and applicability. HolacracyOne has led efforts to update the Holacracy constitution to make it less legalistic and more straightforward.

Third, meaningless nonsense language that provides no value should be avoided. Examples discussed include buzzwords created by consulting firms, gibberish generated by tools, and incoherent tweets from public figures. While some level of jargon serves useful purposes, language that confuses rather than informs should be challenged.

The passage discusses how specialized jargon or lingo used within departments or teams can cause problems when communicating with others. Specifically:

  • Specialized departments at banks developed their own technical terms like CDOs and SIVs that were “impenetrable” to others. This gave them an advantage in political battles as others didn’t understand what they did.

  • There was no incentive to share information between departments which operated more like “warring tribes” competing for resources.

  • Even senior executives didn’t understand the risks involved in instruments called super-senior CDOs because risk managers told them they were as safe as Treasury bonds.

  • Translating jargon into plain language can help outsiders understand and improve communication. An experiment showed patients preferred information translated from medical jargon.

  • When terms mean different things to different groups, it leads to “noise” that hinders decision making, as described in Kahneman’s work.

  • The term “agile” is given as an example which has come to mean so many different methods and approaches that it provides little useful meaning on its own.

The passage recommends developing generalists who understand various specialist terms, having groups translate jargon, and avoiding terms that have become too vague through varied usage.

Here are some key points to consider when responding to current challenges:

  • Focus on constructive progress, not speed alone. Prioritize doing work well and safely over rushing to complete tasks or reach goals. Slowing down when needed allows for quality work and avoiding risks.

  • Apply “good friction” by carefully evaluating situations and making prudent decisions. Consider all factors thoroughly rather than hastily acting without reflection. Taking time for assessment prevents mistakes and protects well-being.

  • Address the root causes of barriers and inefficiencies, not just their symptoms. Identify systematic issues through understanding processes fully. Holistic solutions create long-term improvement over temporary fixes.

  • Maintain a learning attitude over a “mission accomplished” mindset. View challenges as an ongoing journey of continuous progress. Persistence and adaptability serve organizations better than declarations of arrival.

  • Communicate challenges with empathy, honesty and care for all impacted. Bring people together through open discussion of problems and equitable treatment. Shared understandings help coordination toward shared goals.

  • Prioritize health, ethics and legal compliance above hurried timelines. Risks to safety, fairness and integrity undermine real progress. By proceeding responsibly and sustainably, organizations build trust and resilience for future difficulties.

The most constructive path is usually one of prudent patience, thorough consideration and united problem-solving - not reckless speed alone. With care, understanding and well-being of all as priorities, lasting solutions can be found step by step through cooperation instead of shortcuts.

Here are the key points about the consequences of excessive speed from the summary:

  • It can lead to burnout as employees feel tired, frustrated and overwhelmed from being overworked and constantly rushing to meet deadlines. Overloaded employees are more likely to get sick, change jobs, etc.

  • When people are in a hurry, they focus only on tasks and don’t have time to help or be nice to others. They become selfish and oblivious to the needs of colleagues.

  • Stressed and tired bosses who are rushing are more prone to abusive and bullying behaviors towards subordinates. This causes anxiety, health issues, and high turnover among employees.

  • The frenzy of constant rushing leads to poor decision making as people don’t have time to properly think things through or plan for the future. They make shallow, biased decisions based on current pressures.

  • An excessive focus on speed kills creativity as creativity requires exploration, reflection and incubation periods which aren’t possible when constantly rushing from task to task.

So in summary, being too focused on speed and locomotion at all costs can seriously harm individuals, teams and organizations through burnout, selfishness, bullying, poor decision making and suppressed creativity. Taking time to slow down is important to avoid these negative consequences.

  • Creativity and innovation thrive when people have time for reflection, experimentation and trial-and-error. However, constant time pressure and focusing only on short-term goals can undermine creativity.

  • Research found that when people felt significant time pressure to complete tasks, their daily reports showed 45% less creative and flexible thinking. Pressure led to more output but less innovation.

  • Time pressure was most damaging when schedules were fragmented with unimportant tasks, meetings and shifting priorities. This led to frustration and inability to focus.

  • In contrast, time pressure did not undermine creativity as much when people felt part of an important mission and had stretches of solo work to focus.

  • Excessive speed can accumulate large “organizational debt” like technical problems, inefficiencies and poor decisions that are postponed but eventually slow the organization down. This happened at Uber as it grew very fast.

  • To create constructive friction, leaders need to periodically pause projects to reflect, identify risks, make sure the right resources and people are in place, and avoid letting debt accumulate through constant urgency and short-term thinking. Slowing down can prevent problems and renew creativity.

  • Huggy Rao and colleagues conducted a study with 1000 aspiring entrepreneurs split into 348 virtual teams to develop a health/wellness product and ad.

  • Teams were randomly assigned to do a previctorem (imagining future success) or a premortem (imagining future failure) before starting, or a placebo control.

  • The highest performing teams were those that did a previctorem, imagining future success and reflecting on team dynamics that led to it. This boosted coordination and optimism.

  • Doing a previctorem helps teams agree on work processes and performance definitions with a shared language. Focusing on success boosts collective optimism and persistence.

  • The lesson is that teams should pause before starting work, do imaginary time travel to envision future success or failure, discuss why, and apply the lessons conjured up. This improves decisions and design by making future outcomes seem more concrete.

  • Becky Margiotta’s “Where’s your Times Square?” lesson stresses having excellence established at a small scale before spreading it. She used 5 years to develop proven methods in Times Square before launching a national homeless initiative.

  • Parker Conrad similarly learned at Zenefits to fully automate processes before taking a product to many customers, versus the manual work approach that strained resources. He is applying these lessons at his new company Rippling.

  • The passage discusses the importance of teams periodically “pausing” or engaging in a “relaunch” to reflect on how changes have impacted their goals, norms, processes, etc. This helps ensure they are set up for optimal performance given the new context.

  • It describes a technique called a “Team Refresh” developed for virtual teams, which involves games and activities to identify outdated norms/practices to remove and strengths/strategies to reinforce. Client teams reported implementing meaningful changes from this process.

  • It emphasizes the value of establishing rhythms and cadence through routines like daily standup meetings. This helps promote coordination, problem-solving, setting clear work/stop times, and building social bonds especially important for remote teams.

  • Finding the right balance of communication is important - alternating between “bursty” periods of collaboration and solo work led to better outcomes than constant or inconsistent communication in one study.

  • Endings matter - rituals at the end of meetings, days or projects help reflect, feel accomplished, understand next steps, and reinforce core values of the group.

The passage discusses principles for leading a “friction project” to identify and reduce obstacles (“friction”) that waste people’s time and frustrate them in organizations.

The first principle is to serve as a “trustee” of others’ time by focusing on inefficient processes that squander time and money. Trustees help increase awareness of friction issues among those who can fix them, in motivational ways rather than blaming or making excuses.

Examples include a nonprofit CEO having top executives try a cumbersome government form to gain humility, and Churchill pressuring bureaucrats to be briefer. Trustees keep finding ways to foster accountability for others’ experiences and drive continuous improvement.

The lesson is that skilled leaders of friction projects think like caretakers of people’s experience, raise issues constructively, and guide cultural and practical changes - exemplified by a government head signing on to redesign the form after realizing its flaws through experience. The goal is empowering colleagues to see friction reduction as a shared responsibility.

Here is a summary of the key points about the heir cone of friction:

  • Organizational design is one of the highest forms of friction fixing, as it involves designing systems and structures to minimize friction from the start. Most leaders do not have the luxury of designing from scratch, so they must find ways to improve existing systems.

  • Well-designed teams and organizations can significantly impact performance outcomes, according to research showing 60% of performance is determined by pre-work like strategy, roles, coordination, etc. Ongoing design choices also have a big impact.

  • Leaders should focus their design efforts on improving how roles, teams, and departments work together to avoid coordination issues. They can also implement subtraction tools to remove unnecessary friction and reshape norms and processes.

  • Periodic team “relaunches” are important, where teams assess what works and needs changing in order to continuously improve systems design as organizations evolve over time.

  • The goal of leaders’ friction-fixing work is to build cultures where reducing unnecessary hurdles and obstacles is a core part of how the organization functions on an ongoing basis.

Here is a summary of the key points from the passage:

  • The journey metaphor is preferable to the destination metaphor for developing knowledge and driving change. Focusing on the journey and continuous improvement rather than just achieving goals leads to better long-term outcomes.

  • Leaders should focus on continuously improving the “little things” along the way, as these small steps compound to fuel success over time. For example, Steve Jobs paid close attention to every detail of the customer experience at Apple Stores.

  • Organizations benefit from having both “grease people” who question rules and take risks to drive innovation, as well as “gunk people” who enforce rules and procedures to maintain stability and safety. The key is putting the right people in the right roles.

  • Some “gunk people” act as power-hungry vigilantes who create unnecessary friction, often due to a lack of appreciation and prestige. Good leaders curb such behaviors by coaching the individuals, ensuring roles are valued, and holding even powerful people accountable for creating bad friction.

Overall, the passage discusses effective leadership approaches for driving organizational learning and change using the journey metaphor, emphasizing continuous improvement ofdetails, and balancing different personality types to reduce unnecessary friction. No single metaphor is used to frame the discussion.

  • The passage discusses the importance of friction shifting - knowing when to apply more or less friction to different types of decisions. It encourages assessing what should be easy vs hard rather than getting stuck in always applying grease (low friction) or gunk (high friction).

  • It uses examples like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ distinction between one-way and two-way doors for decisions. One-way decisions require more deliberation while two-way can be more flexible.

  • Paul Anderson is cited for how he calmed a troubled mining company by first slowing down and gathering information before implementing changes.

  • The passage argues that friction fixing is accelerated by civility, caring and love within an organization. Research shows these lead to better collaboration, commitment and coordination among employees.

  • Examples of leaders who built cultures of caring, like Garry Ridge at WD-40, are provided. This approach prioritizes helping people succeed over short-term gains and fuels pride, effort and cooperation.

  • The concept of “companionate love” in the workplace is discussed, with research finding it leads to greater job satisfaction, commitment and accountability.

Here is a summary of the provided passage:

  • Todd, the founder of Devoted, believes that balancing love, care, and efficiency is crucial for designing and operating the company’s systems.

  • Devoted’s mission is to “work like crazy to care for everyone like we would for own mom.” Todd tells employees to imagine helping a family member they love when making decisions that could impact customers.

  • This shows Todd values both treating customers with compassion as well as avoiding issues like long wait times. He wants customers to feel cared for and get a good experience.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • The authors have been tracking close to 2,000 agile teams and studying performance core teams in multiteam systems.

  • Their research found that AstraZeneca saved 2 million hours by simplifying processes.

  • They consulted with companies like Uber, BHP, and General Motors on friction and simplification efforts.

  • Sutton has written articles for Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education, and LinkedIn on topics like wasted employee time, too many teams/bosses, growing to-do lists, and organizational overload.

  • Their research and consulting aim to understand sources of friction in organizations and how to make the right things easier and the wrong things harder through simplification and process improvement.

  • In summary, the authors have studied friction systematically through research on agile teams and case studies of companies, and have shared their findings through academic papers and popular publications to help practitioners address organizational friction.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article:

  • The article discusses how meeting overload and unnecessary administrative tasks prevent people from doing meaningful work. It proposes that minor sources of “friction” like these should be reduced or eliminated through systematic analysis.

  • It recommends conducting “friction forensics” to carefully study how time is spent and identify unnecessary activities, meetings, forms, etc. that waste people’s time and energy. This draws on concepts from scholars like Parkinson, Brooks, Sunstein, and Herd about how small inefficiencies accumulate.

  • Reducing friction through things like fewer low-value meetings, streamlined forms, or simplifying bureaucratic processes can free up substantial time and attention for higher priority work. Several examples of organizations doing this are provided.

  • The human tendency to continually add more tasks/responsibilities but rarely remove old ones contributes to overload. The “rule of halves” suggests removing at least half of non-essential activities on a regular basis.

  • Creating some beneficial “friction” through careful process design can also encourage focus and quality. But most organizations would benefit greatly from systematically reducing unnecessary burdens.

  • Multiple frameworks, models and consulting initiatives are mentioned that aim to help optimize processes, reduce waste and regain focus on core work through friction analysis andremoval. The goal is to make it easier for people to do important things.

  • Oblivious leaders are unaware of problems and friction their organizations cause for customers and other stakeholders. They live in a bubble where things seem fine.

  • Strategies, policies and practices that seem reasonable from inside an organization can cause major hassles, inconveniences and harms from an outside perspective. Leaders often don’t get feedback revealing these negative impacts.

  • Factors like centrality, privilege and overconfidence can blind leaders to realities outside their immediate circles. They assume their experiences are universally shared.

  • The collapse of companies like Lehman Brothers and harms done by dominant firms like Comcast highlight how obliviousness at the top can have serious consequences if problems aren’t addressed.

  • Leaders need to proactively solicit diverse perspectives and feedback, be wary of fallacies of centrality, and maintain an outsider sensibility to avoid being oblivious to friction their organizations may be causing unintentionally. Self-awareness and perspective-taking are important leadership skills.

Here is a summary of the key points from the chapter:

  • People tend to overlook subtractions and focus more on additions, a cognitive bias called “addition bias.” This means we don’t properly consider removing or simplifying existing processes, rules, and structures.

  • Leaders need to conduct “sludge audits” and “stupid stuff” exercises to identify unnecessary complexity and bureaucracy that can be removed. Several companies have done this successfully to reduce meeting loads, paperwork, and other administrative burdens.

  • Allowing additions without corresponding subtractions leads to “Tragedy of the Commons” problems as systems accumulate more tasks, roles, and rules over time without streamlining.

  • The goal of subtractive thinking is not less per se but better. Removing non-essential elements can improve focus, productivity, decisions, and outcomes.

  • Leaders must counter addition bias by routinely asking what can be taken away or simplified, not just what can be added on. Subtraction is as important as addition for progress and performance.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “Transforming the Paperwork Reduction” by Don Moynihan:

  • The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 aimed to reduce administrative burdens but is now outdated and ineffective due to technological changes.

  • A new framework is needed that embraces electronic forms, recognizes the importance of data to policymaking, and engages the public in identifying unnecessary red tape.

  • Modernizing the act could reduceprivate sector compliance costs and help agencies be more transparent and data-driven in their decision-making.

  • Reform proposals include shifting the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ focus from paperwork to electronic reporting, allowing agencies more flexibility, and creating more opportunities for public participation.

  • Overall the article argues for updating outdated regulatory review processes to reduce bureaucratic burdens while maintaining important public protections and oversight. Reform could transform the act into a more modern tool for reducing red tape.

Here are summaries of the key passages:

  • Zachariah C. Brown, Eric M. Anicich, and Adam D. Galinsky study found that low-status individuals tend to increase their use of jargon and obscure language as a form of “compensatory communication.”

  • Laura J. Kornish and Sharaya M. Jones study found that more verbose descriptions of new products tended to be perceived as more creative.

  • The “golden rule of Holacracy” refers to having clearly defined roles rather than job titles.

  • Companies that have practiced Holacracy include Zappos, Medium, and Whole Foods.

  • Reactions to Holacracy tend to be that people either love it or hate it.

  • There have been two main versions of the Holacracy constitution.

  • George Orwell argued that certain political language “anesthetizes a portion of one’s brain.”

  • At Medium, Holacracy was used to remove middle managers and promote more autonomous, self-organizing work. Zappos also struggled after adopting Holacracy.

  • Holacracy coinventor Brian Robertson spearheaded refinements to the framework over time.

  • Harry Frankfurt’s 2005 bestseller On Bullshit explored the concept and led to the emerging field of “bullshitology.”

  • André Spicer defines bullshit as communications meant to impress rather than inform. He discusses the roles of bullshitters and bullshittees in organizations.

  • People can vary in their receptivity to believing bullshit. Excessive jargon and buzzwords in industries like marketing can constitute office bullshit.

  • Brandolini’s law notes the effort to rebut bullshit is greater than to produce it. Roles like “Chief Obfuscation Champion” were criticized.

  • In-group lingos like specialized jargon in the FDNY or banks can foster insiders but confuse outsiders.

  • Generalists tend to outperform specialists over the long run, as seen with CEO Mary Barra of GM. Simpler language helps patients understand medical information.

  • A presentation with 105 slides on Agile methods defeats the purpose of being Agile. Concrete language is more persuasive than vagueness. Sensory metaphors also engage audiences.

  • Paul O’Neill focused Alcoa on safety and underscored it should be a leader’s top priority through consistent, concrete rhetoric.

  • Michael Brennan worked to simplify a complex government benefits application process through user research and redesign. David Novak at Wendy’s also focused on simplifying processes.

  • Satya Nadella at Microsoft pushed for cultural change through repetitive messaging of Microsoft’s new mission.

  • Some companies use Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) models to assign clear accountability.

  • Hackman suggested the 60-30-10 rule for meetings - 60% of time on substantive work, 30% on process, 10% on personal well-being.

  • Sheri Singer at Disney conducts research by living with rats to inspire story ideas. Disney also invented Space Mountain through prototyping.

  • Gelfand’s research found tight cultures value order while loose cultures enable innovation.

  • Pixar’s approach focuses on the journey of ideation rather than final products.

  • Unbureaucratic personalities can help loosen rigid cultures. Workplace vigilantes enforce norms in negative ways due to lack of prestige.

  • Bezos believed failure is cheap if you learn from mistakes. Paul O’Neill turned around Alcoa through clear priorities and breaking down barriers.

  • Incivility and rudeness plague many workplaces according to Christine Porath’s research.

Here are summaries of the passages you provided:

  • Peter Ferdinand Drucker, Managing Oneself (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2008), 8–9: This source discusses how relationships with colleagues are the “lubricating oil” that allows people to get work done efficiently. Having good relationships makes work easier and more productive.

  • Christine Porath, “Frontline Work When Everyone Is Angry,” Harvard Business Review, November 9, 2022: This article provides Christine Porath’s advice on how frontline workers can manage their own stress and emotions when dealing with angry customers during times of uncertainty and high emotion. It suggests focusing on listening respectfully and problem-solving calmly.

  • Chris Benguhe and RaeAnne Marsh, “For Former WD-40 CEO, Caring Oils the Wheels of Management,” International Business Times, December 9, 2022: This article profiles the former CEO of WD-40, who said that caring about employees and having their backs was important for effective management, just like the company’s products care for and protect the machines and equipment of customers.

  • Kim Scott, Radical Candor: Fully Revised & Updated Edition: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2019): This book discusses the concept of “ruinous empathy,” which is when a manager is so concerned with being liked that they fail to give needed criticism and feedback to direct reports.

  • Sigal G. Barsade and Olivia A. O’Neill, “What’s Love Got to Do with It? A Longitudinal Study of the Culture of Companionate Love and Employee and Client Outcomes in a Long-Term Care Setting,” Administrative Science Quarterly 59, no. 4 (2014): This study examines the concept of “companionate love” in workplace relationships - caring about colleagues’ well-being and feeling bonded to them - and how it can positively impact employee and client outcomes.

  • Kevin Truong, “Why Devoted Health Has Put Family at the Center of Its Mission,” MedCity News, January 7, 2019; Robert I. Sutton, “The Fixers Presents: Todd Park,” Stanford Online interview, February 1, 2022: These sources discuss how the healthcare startup Devoted Health has consciously built a culture modeled on ideas of family, friendship and loyalty to prioritize patient care.

  • Personal communication to Robert Sutton, December 22, 2022, and January 24, 2023: This summarizes personal communications the requester had with Clara Shih regarding her thoughts on various workplace culture and management topics.

Here are summaries of the key points from each section:

New York City, Department of Sanitation - Government agency responsible for sanitation services in New York City.

The New York Times - Major American newspaper published in New York City.

Nextdoor - Social network for neighborhoods.

Norby, Doug - No information provided.

Norton, Michael - No information provided.

Novak, David - No information provided.

Obama, Barack - 44th president of the United States (2009-2017).

Obama administration - The executive branch of the United States government from 2009 to 2017 under President Barack Obama.

Obamacare - Common name for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a 2010 United States federal statute designed to provide Americans with access to affordable health insurance.

Ochsner Health, 10/5 way - Healthcare provider based in Louisiana that developed a 10/5 service model.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) - Agency within the Executive Office of the President responsible for producing the President’s budget, overseeing its implementation, and assessing federal programs.

oganizational debt - No information provided.

Ogilvy & Mather - Global advertising, marketing, and public relations agency.

Okhuysen, Gerardo - No information provided.

onboarding - Process of integrating a new employee.

One Against Loneliness Campaign - No information provided.

100,000 Homes Campaign - Initiative to house 100,000 homeless individuals and families.

100,000 Lives Campaign - Initiative to improve patient safety and prevent medical errors.

O’Neill, Paul - No information provided.

“One Microsoft” - No information provided.

open offices, lack of privacy in - Reference to lack of privacy and concentration issues that can occur in open office floor plans.

opioids - Class of drugs that include powerful prescription painkillers.

organizational design - How job tasks, power and responsibilities are formally divided, grouped and coordinated.

organizations - Types of organizations and their characteristics.

bad ones - No information provided.

departments of - No information provided.

Orpheus - Legendary musician, poet and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth.

Orwell, George - English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic best known for his novels Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm.

Ozenc, Kursat, Rituals at Work - No information provided.

Packard, Dave - American engineer, businessman, and writer who founded Hewlett-Packard.

Page, Larry - American technology entrepreneur who co-founded Google with Sergey Brin.

paperwork reduction - Efforts to streamline and reduce excessive paperwork requirements.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) - U.S. federal law aimed at controlling and reducing paperwork requirements imposed on the public by the federal government.

Park, Todd - No information provided.

Parkinson, C. Northcote, Parkinson’s Law - British naval historian who in 1955 proposed Parkinson’s law, which states “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

partition focus - Strategies for concentrating work by creating partitions or dividers.

Pennycock, Gordon - No information provided.

people, “Grease” and “Gunk” - Terminology differentiating valuable versus problematic employees.

perfection, striving for - Tendency to fruitlessly aim for flawlessness.

Perfectionist’s Paradox - No information provided.

perks, of CEOs - Non-salary privileges, benefits and amenities provided to corporate executives.

Perlow, Leslie - Professor; expert on workload rhythm and interruptions.

permits - Government authorization to perform certain activities.

Peters, Tom, In Search of Excellence - 1982 management book by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. that studied the practices of American businesses considered as excellent performers.

Pfeffer, Jeff - Professor; expert on evidence-based management practices.

The Knowing-Doing Gap - Book on the gap between knowledge and action.

Pham, Thuan - No information provided.

pharmaceutical companies - Companies involved in research, development, manufacturing, and marketing of pharmaceutical drugs.

Picasso, Pablo - Renowned 20th-century Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist who co-founded the Cubist movement.

Pierson, Ed - No information provided.

pit stop perspective - Focusing on quick turnaround times for tasks.

Pixar - American computer animation film studio based in Emeryville, California.

pods - Divided workspaces commonly used in open office plans.

popsicle stick system - No information provided.

Porath, Christine, Mastering Civility - Book on improving workplace culture through courtesy.

posers - People who fake their abilities or achievements.

tricks of - Tactics used to deceive others about one’s true abilities.

power poisoning - Negative effects of power on how people behave and think.

previctorem, premortem (words) - Terms related to identifying risks and failures in advance.

pride - Feelings of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.

primate group behavior - Social behaviors observed in primate groups such as humans.

privilege - Special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.

Product Evaluation Program (PEP) - Initiative at Hewlett-Packard to improve business processes.

Project Oxygen - Google initiative to understand what qualities made their best managers successful.

Project Re:form - Hewlett-Packard initiative to streamline bureaucracy.

Pullen, Noel - No information provided.

Pulse News - No information provided.

Purcell, Paul - No information provided.

purges - Actions of eliminating disfavored people from a government or organization.

Rao, Huggy - Professor; coauthor of Scaling Up Excellence.

Ravel Law - Legal research platform.

Reagans, Ray - No information provided.

receptionists - Employees who manage front desks and initial greetings for organizations.

reference letters - Letters of recommendation for job or academic program applicants.

reframing - Reinterpreting challenging situations in a more positive light.

Reiche, Sebastian - No information provided.

Reid, Erin - Professor; expert on workplace relationships.

Reis, Eric - Professor; expert on relationships, emotions, and health.

relaunch - Process of reintroducing or restarting a brand, product or service.

remote work - Performing job duties away from a central workplace, often from home.

reorganizing routines - Changing established patterns or habits of work.

Repenning, Nelson - Professor; expert on business process improvement.

Rickover, Hyman - U.S. Navy officer who directed the nuclear propulsion program.

ride-along method - Shadowing employees to gain first-hand knowledge.

Ridge, Gary - No information provided.

Riedl, Christoph - No information provided.

Rippling - Software platform for employee benefits and payroll.

roach motel problem - Tendency for groups or systems to accumulate without releasing resources or people.

Robertson, Brian - Business leader, author, philanthropist; co-founder of Bell Labs and Arris Group.

Roche - Swiss health care company specializing in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.

Rohm and Haas - American specialty materials company.

role shifting - Deliberately taking on different responsibilities temporarily.

Roosevelt, Eleanor - American political figure, diplomat and activist; First Lady from 1933 to 1945.

Rubin, Gretchen, The Happiness Project - Book exploring how to increase happiness.

rule of halves - Principle that roughly half of effects come from half of the causes.

rules, effective - Characteristics that make rules useful and workable.

Russell, Andrew - No information provided.

saboteurs, training of - No information provided.

Sacks, David - No information provided.

safety, employees’ - Ensuring workplace environment does not endanger employees.

Salesforce - Cloud-based software company.

Sams, Jordan - No information provided.

Sandra - No information provided.

San Francisco - City located on the west coast of the United States in Northern California.

bus lane project - Effort to improve public transportation.

permit system - Process for obtaining government permission.

Planning Commission - Government body that regulates land uses.

Sawyer, Lucianne - Media commentator and author.

school principals - Leaders and administrators of primary or secondary schools.

Schramm, Carl, Burn the Business Plan - Book arguing traditional plans are outdated.

Schwan, Severin - No information provided.

Schwarz, Roger - No information provided.

Scott, Kim, Radical Candor - Book on providing feedback through caring and challenging.

Scott (pseudonym) - No information provided.

secrecy - State of being kept hidden or concealed.

Seinfeld - Popular American sitcom TV series (1989–1998).

Seinfeld, Jerry - Comedian, actor, writer; creator and star of Seinfeld TV show.

selfishness - Concern for one’s own welfare and interests above the interests of others.

self-serving biases - Tendency to perceive oneself in an overly favorable manner.

Selzer, Adam and Lena - No information provided.

Sequel - No information provided.

service, bad - Substandard assistance or performance of duties.

7-Eleven - International chain of convenience stores and gas stations.

sexism - Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination on the basis of sex.

shadowing methods - Techniques used to observe employees at work.

Shafir, Eldar - Professor of psychology and public affairs specializing in behavioral science.

sham participation - Pretense of including others without genuine involvement.

sheet music vs. playing jazz - Distinction between following rigid plans versus improvisation.

shielding - Actions taken to protect others from harm, problems or difficulties.

shift changes - Times when work groups change.

Shih, Clara - No information provided.

Shoemaker, David - No information provided.

Simonton, Dean Keith - Professor known for research on creativity and genius.

Simple Rules (Sull) - Book by Donald Sull advocating focused rules and priorities.

Simple Sabotage Field Manual - WWII-era U.S. government document detailing methods of organized workplace disruption.

Singer, Sara - No information provided.

Singer, Sheri - Professor focused on decision making and psychology.

Sinofsky, Steven - Computer software executive, author; former head of Windows at Microsoft.

60-30-10 rule - Guideline for dividing time among important/urgent tasks.

Slack - Collaboration platform for messaging and file sharing.

sleep debt - Impairment caused by lack of adequate rest.

slowing down - Decelerating work pace intentionally.

slow lanes, in stores - Sections dedicated to less hurried shopping.

Smashing the Old Ways ritual - No information provided.

Smith, Alvy Ray - No information provided.

Smith, Craig, “40 Agile Methods in 40 Minutes” - Presentation about agile project management techniques.

Smith, Daniel - No information provided.

SNAFU (Situation Normal: All Fucked Up) - Military slang term implying chaos or failure despite expectations.

Space Mountain - Indoor roller coaster at many Disney theme parks.

speed - Rapid rate or movement.

damage from - Negative consequences from moving too quickly.

excessive - Moving at an undesirably high rate.

Spicer, André - Organizational theorist and management consultant known for work on “bullshit.”

Business Bullshit - Book about pseudo-profound language in corporations.

Spider-Man film - Popular superhero film franchises featuring the Marvel character Spider-Man.

Stanford University - Private research university in Stanford, California.

business classes and workshops - Educational programming.

design of a new building - Architectural project.

d. school - Design school focused on innovation.

Hasso Plattner Institute of Design - Design institute at Stanford.

a large email - Reference to internal university communication.

paperwork at - Administrative processes.

School of Sustainability - Academic program.

Technology Ventures Program - Entrepreneurship program.

START class - No information provided.

Staudenmayer, Nancy - No information provided.

Sterman, John - Professor of management science known for system dynamics modeling.

Stoll, Annie and Craig - Authors focused on relationships in the workplace.

storytelling - Sharing of narratives, both verbally and written.

Subramanian, Pushkala - No information provided.

subtraction - Removing unnecessary elements to achieve simplicity.

Games - No information provided.

mindset - Attitude focused on elimination versus addition.

Movements - No information provided.

Rituals - No information provided.

Specialists - No information provided.

Tools - No information provided.

Sull, Don, Simple Rules - Book advocating focused rules and priorities.

Sunstein, Cass - Professor of law; expert on behavioral science in regulation.

Sludge - Coining of the term “sludge” for administrative hassle.

Sutton, Bob - Professor; expert on knowing-doing gap and incivility.

Beyond Collaboration Overload - Book on challenges of too much collaboration.

The Knowing-Doing Gap - Book on gap between knowledge and action.

The No Asshole Rule - Book advocating for civility in the workplace.

SWAT teams - Specialized law enforcement tactical and crisis response teams.

Sweeping the Shed ritual - No information provided.

Swiss Cheese theory - Accident causation model comparing defenses to multiple slices of swiss cheese.

system design and repair - Planning and improving processes and procedures.

System 2 - Slow, effortful cognitive processing system in dual process theory.

Tattersall, Ian - American anthropologist known for discoveries in human evolution.

Teamraderie - No information provided.

Team Refresh exercise - No information provided.

teams - Groups working together to achieve goals.

technical debt - Cost of additional rework caused by choosing quick, easy solution versus well-designed approach.

technical language - Terminology associated with a specific technical discipline.

Templeton, Mark - No information provided.

Tepper, Ben - Professor known for research in gratitude, forgiveness and relationships.

Tesla - American automotive and energy company specializing in electric vehicles.

Tett, Gillian - Anthropologist and journalist focusing on societal changes.

Thanks a Million contest - No information provided.

Theranos - Disgraced blood testing company that claimed breakthrough technology.

Thompson, James, Organizations in Action - Classic organizational behavior textbook.

360 hardware and software - All-in-one computers and related programs.

Tiedens, Lara - Professor studying emotions and social influence.

time, others’, trustees of - Responsibility to respect how others use their time.

time pressure - Feeling of urgency from tight deadlines.

“Times Square” approach - No information provided.

time travel (imaginary) - Visiting the past or future hypothetically.

Tomlin, Lily - American actress, comedian, producer.

Top Gun movies - Films starring Tom Cruise about elite U.S. Navy pilots.

Tracy, Jessica - Professor known for bestselling books on leadership and success.

tragedy of the commons - Situation when individuals acting in self-interest leads to depletion of a shared limited resource.

trust, emotional - Confidence and reliance on psychological bonds between people.

trying to help - Efforts intended to aid others that may undermine autonomy.

T-shirts, free, cost of sending - Free merchandise requires costs to produce and distribute.

Tucker, Anita - Professor known for work on gender and negotiations.

Tutu, Desmond - South African Anglican cleric and activist; advocate for racial equality and reconciliation.

Uber - Ride-sharing company facilitating transportation via smartphone app.

UBS - Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company.

Ukeles, Mierle Laderman - American artist known for maintenance and care-focused works.

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) - Federal executive department responsible for military defense.

U.S. Forest Service - Federal agency managing public lands in national forests and grasslands.

U.S. Navy, meals in messes - Communal dining areas and processes in the Navy.

U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) - WWII intelligence agency; precursor to CIA.

U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), PreCheck program - Expedited airport security screening program.

Utley, Jeremy - No information provided.

Valentine, Melissa - No information provided.

VanderZanden, Travis - No information provided.

Velcich, Kathryn - No information provided.

vigilantes (lacking authority) - Self-appointed individuals taking the law into their own hands without legal authority.

Vinsel, Lee - Technologist and historian studying trends in innovation and labor.

Visa International - Multinational financial services corporation operating the world’s largest retail electronic payments network.

Vynamic - Management consultancy advising companies through data science.

Washington, George - First president of the United States (1789–1797).

Waze - Navigation app that provides real-time traffic and road information.

WD-40 - Lubricant, penetrating oil and cleaner commonly used to loosen rusty bolts.

Weber, Roberto - Professor studying irrational decision making.

Weick, Karl - Professor considered

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About Matheus Puppe