MARCH 15, 2018
Friction: Fact and Fiction
By Mark Loehrke, Editor, Financial Managers Society
organizations might prefer a CFO who helps calm the waters, there’s another
school of thought that argues for a leader who not only isn’t afraid of
friction, but actively works to foment it. The latest lesson emerging from this
particular school comes courtesy of a
new report from Deloitte, which explains how fostering friction can lead to
better organizational performance.
there’s much more to fostering friction than simply lighting a bunch of fires
and hoping for the best. The key is in recognizing the differences between
friction that leads to strategic breakthroughs and friction that simply results
in chaos and infighting. The right type of friction – defined by
Deloitte as group members' willingness and ability to challenge each other's
ideas and assumptions – can drive groups to reexamine assumptions, test
constraints and push boundaries.
A CFO looking to benefit from productive
friction among his or her team members should first understand the
characteristics that cultivate such a working dynamic, including:
Different voices lead to new ideas and new
ways of thinking.
When everyone gets along just fine – all
the time – there’s little chance of anyone stepping forward to challenge the
and discussion over approval
If every idea is getting through without
much debate, chances are you’re not going to see a lot of game-changing ideas.
Take the ideas generated in small working
groups and open them up to a wider audience – like the whole organization – for
feedback and discussion.
Put those ideas down on paper – the more
they’re studied and examined from different viewpoints, the more they’ll be
dissected, debated and challenged.
With a culture defined by the above
characteristics in place, leaders can go about trying to create the type of
friction that can lead to new levels of productivity by actively embracing
complexity and seeking out challenges. The Deloitte report goes into greater
detail about how to take this approach and how to weave more friction into an
organization’s current workgroup practices, arguing that calm waters may, in
fact, be precisely what a CFO should work very hard to avoid.