Premiere article: The future belongs to the friction fixers.

Published June 22, 2020.

I hate friction, and I’m sure you do, too.

We all deal with it, every single day. It comes in many shapes and forms, and it often feels like this:

An angry person glares at a long, convoluted maze that causes friction, frustration, and confusion.

Some types of friction are minor, in the grand scheme of things. You might even consider some of them to be “first-world problems” — but they can still wreak havoc.

I’m talking about confusing websites and apps. Navigating bureaucracy at the DMV (yuck). Calling the phone or cable company (double yuck). Marketing content full of hard-sell tactics, PR spin, or corporate speak. Spending hours applying for a job, but HR never sends a confirmation of receipt nor a status update. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Other forms of friction are far more extreme — and sadly, billions of people suffer the consequences every day.

I’m talking about homelessness and hunger. Polarization and disinformation. Inaccessibility for people with disabilities. Social and economic inequities. Discrimination, in all its vile and unacceptable forms. (And that’s just a partial list.)

These things aren’t just friction — they’re injustices. And now, many of them have intensified dramatically due to COVID-19.

But here’s the good news:

Friction, big or small, can be fixed.

Pains can be soothed. Problems can be solved. Experiences can be transformed to feel like this:

A happy person smiles at the sight of straight, direct, easy-to-use pathway.

As a result, organizations become more successful. Trust is earned. Communities and relationships become stronger. Best of all, peoples’ lives are improved in meaningful and significant ways.

In other words, everybody wins — and that’s what Friction Fixer is all about. This isn’t your typical “business blog” because business as usual doesn’t cut it anymore.

Instead, this is a new kind of blog centered around two goals:

Goal 1: To help organizations thrive by becoming more human-centered.

Ever notice how most talk about businesses and organizations is very bottom-line oriented, fixated on how the organization can win?

With Friction Fixer, I’m taking a different approach.

I want to talk primarily about how people can win — in particular, the people who are the lifeblood of any organization: customers and employees.

Yes, of course, results are important — but people are more important.

In fact, when organizations put people first, above all else, they outperform their self-centered, bottom-line-obsessed competitors in every way:

Forward-thinking organizations understand this. They also know that, when given a choice, people will always choose the lower-friction, higher-reward alternative that makes their lives measurably easier and better.

That’s why these organizations have shifted to a human-centered mindset obsessed with delivering superior Customer (CX), User (UX), and Employee (EX) Experiences.

Their innovative experiences have propelled them to new heights and turned their old-school competitors into dinosaurs (something video and music stores, legacy big-name retailers, and keyboard phones could tell you all about — if they were still around).

Which begs the question: Do you want your business, non-profit, government, or school to become a dinosaur? I didn’t think so.

That’s why Friction Fixer is going to be a place full of insights, ideas, and inspiration to help your organization and its people move forward and thrive.

Here, you can expect a mix of articles, interviews, reviews, and videos on a range of interconnected topics: CX, UX, and EX. Design. Research and empathy. Strategy. Technology. Privacy. Products and services (both physical and digital). Brand. Marketing. Storytelling. HR and culture. Diversity and inclusion. Accessibility. Social good.

And speaking of social good…

Goal 2: To inspire a movement of friction fixers dedicated to making the world a better place.

Remember the examples of societal friction I mentioned in the intro?

Imagine the progress we could make on these issues if solutions-oriented people from different backgrounds and sectors joined forces in innovative new ways.

Imagine leaders from business, non-profit, and government working together more often. Or designers, architects, and other professionals from human-centered fields collaborating closely with people and causes in their communities.

I think it’s time to stop imagining and start making this a reality.

That’s why Friction Fixer is more than a blog. I see it as a movement that sits at the intersection of commerce, community, and compassion — a movement I hope you’ll join.

The reality is, everything is interconnected — people, communities, politics, government, and business. When one suffers, they all suffer, so we can no longer afford to ignore difficult topics or truths just because they’re outside our respective industries, silos, or comfort zones.

One example: If you’re in the business world, how is your innovative new product or service going to “change the world” if economic inequality means the people who need it most — perhaps including your own employees who made it — can’t afford to buy it?

As I said in the intro, business as usual doesn’t cut it anymore.

Everyone must win. If we can break down silos, embrace our interconnectedness, and work together to fix all types of friction, we just might make that happen.

It all starts locally, so get involved in your community! Listen to people. Empathize with them. Identify their friction and pain. Volunteer. Start or join a human-centered new business or non-profit that creates jobs and fills an urgent need. Speak up. Collaborate and bridge the gaps between people, for-profits, non-profits, and government.

The future belongs to the friction fixers. Are you in?

If so, I want to hear from you. Let’s get to work.

Dave Woods