I've had the pleasure of interviewing some amazingly successful people. From the CIO at Boeing, Chief Digital Officer at McDonald's and the former CMO of Burger King to the founders of successful multi-million dollar businesses like RXBar and PopSockets.
I take 250 coffee meetings a year, and I'm not stopping any time soon. I am generally curious as to how people succeed. What do they do differently than everyone else? Is it their work-ethic? Is it about the time they wake up?
As I started compiling my notes from these interviews, one word showed up way more than others when it came to how they became successful.
It came down to this one word: Friction.
The best leaders and entrepreneurs know that in order to create something amazing, they have to reduce the amount of friction it takes for customers to interact with their product or services.
Here are three areas they are relentless about when it comes to removing friction.
1. They are relentless about removing friction within their organization to get things
When it comes to building a high performing organization, they were adamant about making sure that things got done in a consistent and thoughtful manner. They hated any friction between them and releasing their core products/services.
When I asked them about they remove friction from their organization it came down to two things:
1. Hire people that are better than you.
Many of us still struggle with delegation and in many respects, we don't delegate properly because we don't trust the people we're delegating too. If you find yourself in that situation, maybe you should start looking at who you hire.
Delegation is key to removing yourself as the bottleneck from key decisions and causing unnecessary friction.
2. They are relentless about selling and setting up their products without friction.
Meaning, these founders, and executives were extraordinarily critical about building a product or experience that was as simple as possible to use for everyone involved. They knew that decreasing the friction would increase users, and they were right.
They told me when they select which products to implement within their company, they immediately disregard any products that were hard to implement or took time to implement just so they can test to see if it worked. It wasn't worth the effort even if the product itself was great.
This is why so many "cloud" businesses are taking off because of how simple they are to set up.
This is a note to all entrepreneurs creating products: Make sure your product is painless and free of friction. It shouldn't require an army of people to implement it. That's an uphill battle that you don't want to fight and no leader wants to deal with it.
3. They are relentless about making products easy to use and without friction.
If you're a retailer and it it's easier to stand in line to order something than it is to use your company's app, then it will cause harm to your product. Consumers are getting tired of using my phone for everything and I'm always looking for the easiest way to do it. Consumers will always follow the path to least resistance.
The leaders I interviewed kept referring to the importance of building a product with a great end to end user experience. They were less concerned about or how "innovative" their product was, and more focused on how useful it was to their customer base.
If it's not the easiest to use and doesn't save your customer significant time or money, then getting your product in customers hands is tough.
In the end, it all comes down to friction. This was the core attribute I found in many of these leaders. They just knew how to get things done.
The best leaders remove friction from their organization and create products that have a simple user experience.