Friction: the Necessary Evil

Friction between two forces is necessary for any action. Too much friction causes a heavy consumption of energy as well as wear and tear, but introducing just the right amount is the key to achieving highly efficient motion.

Similarly, when it comes to work, the best performing teams strike the right balance between amicable and adversarial relationships so that team members simultaneously collaborate and compete with each other to deliver winning projects.

Push and Pull to Create the Right Amount of Friction

The Push Pull Squared method is one technique you can use to inject the right amount of friction in teams, to improve productivity and cohesiveness. Here is how it works:

The Pull

The company has a project that has a lead and several team members. The lead should ask team members to meet for thirty minutes to discuss the project’s deliverables and action items for each member for the next month. Make sure everyone agrees with the roles, responsibilities and deliverables. At the end of each day ask team members to spend five minutes reviewing each other’s results in writing including the team lead’s accomplishments.

The Push

The team leader should spend 5 minutes reviewing the work of each team member without seeing the peer reviews. Everyone should then share the feedback and any inconsistencies should be discussed and handled by the project lead.

This process repeats at the end of each day.

The Push Pull Squared

When the project has reached a time-based milestone of approximately 30 days, the project lead should review the results and how they compare to original targets, referred to as the Square Pull.

Similarly, the project sponsor should review and assess what was accomplished, the Square Push, without seeing the project lead’s assessment. The squared feedback is compared and discussed by the project lead and sponsor to address any issues and inconsistencies.

The short bursts of frequent reviews and the comparison of independent assessments create just the right amount of friction, alignment and chemistry for the project’s success.