Bob Sutton: Greasing The Skids For Organizational Success


Every organization is plagued by what Stanford University Business School professor, Bob Sutton, calls “destructive friction:” forces that make it harder, more complicated, or downright impossible to get things done. In Sutton’s language, “the convoluted, time-consuming & soul-crushing gyrations that drive people crazy and undermine organizational performance.”

Along with his co-author, SBS professor, Huggy Rao, Sutton spent seven years studying the ways in which companies unintentionally create maddening friction – from mazes of red tape, to clueless leaders who pile on needless complexity, to hours spent in meetings to more wasted time spent reading poorly constructed and indirect communications (e-mail especially). And they’ve just published the new bestseller, “The Friction Project: How Smart Leaders Make The Right Things Easier And The Wrong Things Harder” in which they provide clear and proven solutions: tactics, tools, & practices to help us avert these traps & move forward.

While most friction in organizations proves to undermine and slow-down progress, the authors stress there are times when leaders are actually wise to inject good friction into the mix – for the explicit purpose of enabling teams to be more creative, develop deeper connections and trust, be kinder & more ethical, make better decisions, and prevent bad friction from building up in the first place.

On the book, Wharton’s Adam Grant says “If every leader took the ideas in this book seriously, the world would be a less miserable, more productive place.”

Bob Sutton has written seven books including the bestsellers “The No Asshole Rule,” “Good Boss, Bad Boss” and “Scaling Up Excellence,” and has long been a desired guest for our podcast.

By Mark C. Crowley

Mark C. Crowley is the author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century which has been taught in 11 American universities. He is a global speaker, leadership consultant and thought leader on the topics of workplace culture and employee engagement.