24 episodes

Part organizational design. Part therapy. Organizational psychologist and Stanford Professor Bob Sutton is back to tackle friction, the phenomenon that frustrates employees, fatigues teams and causes organizations to flounder and fail. Loaded with raw stories of time pressure, courage under ridiculous odds and emotional processing, FRICTION distills research insights and practical tactics to improve the way we work. Listen up as we take you into the friction and velocity of producing made-for-TV movies, scaling up design thinking, leading through crisis and more. Guests include Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn, Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame, and restaurateurs Craig and Annie Stoll; as well as academic leaders from Stanford University and beyond. FRICTION is a Stanford eCorner original series.

FRICTION with Bob Sutton Stanford eCorner

    • Education

Part organizational design. Part therapy. Organizational psychologist and Stanford Professor Bob Sutton is back to tackle friction, the phenomenon that frustrates employees, fatigues teams and causes organizations to flounder and fail. Loaded with raw stories of time pressure, courage under ridiculous odds and emotional processing, FRICTION distills research insights and practical tactics to improve the way we work. Listen up as we take you into the friction and velocity of producing made-for-TV movies, scaling up design thinking, leading through crisis and more. Guests include Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn, Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame, and restaurateurs Craig and Annie Stoll; as well as academic leaders from Stanford University and beyond. FRICTION is a Stanford eCorner original series.

    Turning Friction Into Fire: Lessons from Season 2

    Turning Friction Into Fire: Lessons from Season 2

    In the final episode of season two, Stanford Professor Bob Sutton and producer Rachel Julkowski look for signs of hope in and lessons gleaned from our friction-filled world. We can’t fix every messy, frustrating organization overnight, but we can increase predictability for employees and start making it safer for everyone to share information that challenges us to see beyond our roles and experiences.

    • 24 min
    The Emperor Has No Clue

    The Emperor Has No Clue

    Too much friction drives you crazy, but too little leaves you adrift. In this episode, Stanford Professor Bob Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao, professor in the Stanford Graduate School of Business and coauthor of Scaling Up Excellence, discuss their quest for the “just right” amount of friction. Sure, you can make structural changes, but you’ll never optimize friction if you don’t understand and deal with what people are feeling.

    • 25 min
    Can't Stand the Heat? Get Rid of the Friction

    Can't Stand the Heat? Get Rid of the Friction

    The temperature is higher and things move faster, but restaurant kitchens aren’t so different from any other workplace—you’ve got egos, stress, and the constant pressure to deliver. In this episode, Craig and Annie Stoll, husband and wife owners of the renowned San Francisco-based Delfina Restaurant Group, talk with Stanford Professor Bob Sutton about the organized chaos that rules restaurant kitchens. What keeps everything from going off the rails, the Stolls explain, is predictability and consistency.

    • 26 min
    Dear Micro-Manager, Control Yourself

    Dear Micro-Manager, Control Yourself

    The modern workplace is killing people and no one cares. That’s the sobering conclusion of Jeffrey Pfeffer’s new book "Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance—and What We Can Do About It." In this episode, Stanford Professor Bob Sutton and Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, discuss the toxic workplace practices that are making employees not just miserable but sick. To cure this dangerous state of affairs, Pfeffer prescribes a healthy dose of butting out: companies need to stop micromanaging, and let employees do their work and go home.

    • 25 min
    Simple Rules Set You Free

    Simple Rules Set You Free

    Rules get an unfairly bad rap. In this episode, Stanford Engineering Professor Kathleen Eisenhardt, author of Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World, and Stanford Professor Bob Sutton discuss the virtues of structure and guidelines. As long as your rules are clear and customized to your organization, Eisenhardt says, they won’t get in your way. In fact, the right set of rules—everything from Michael Pollan’s “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” to “no emails on the weekend”—can keep teams focused, productive, and harmonious.

    • 23 min
    Sweet Rejection: Cutting Out the Noise

    Sweet Rejection: Cutting Out the Noise

    You don’t need as many ideas as you think you do. In this episode, Stanford Professor Bob Sutton and Henning Piezunka, assistant professor at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD), debunk brainstorming myths and talk about the importance of saving time and energy. Piezunka explains that rejecting ideas is a delicate art that can actually deepen relationships—and that saying “no” is much better than saying nothing.

    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

johnflurry ,

Keep this going...PLEASE

I am pretty picky when it comes to podcasts. At 50 (ok 49 and 3/4) I soak up as much wisdom and can knowing I don't have endless time. As a business leader, mentor, teacher, father, husband and friend (oh and son) I try to soak up tools, wisdom and correction so that others will thrive. Friction has been so helpful in that pursuit. And yes the content can sometimes be raw and straight forward. It reminds me of my employee 1-1 times or the advice from a good friends. Life is too short to sugar coat things. Keep it up gang. Please keep it up.

DontMakeMeFillInThisField ,

Helpful — if you can get over the bias against real companies

This podcast does provide some helpful insights into organizational culture — and ideas of what you can do to improve the organization for everyone within it.

But there’s a real downside. The podcast and its guests seem completely oblivious to the the real world of business — that world beyond venture capital, Silicon Valley, and academia.

For example, it is stated in multiple episodes, that obtaining venture capital is a necessary requirement for any start up.

Another example. The atrocious behavior of Silicon Valley darlings — like Google demanding 27 interviews of a single candidate — are laughed off as something “normal”. These folks clearly know nothing of the real business world outside the Silicone VC bubble.

Again, for a normal entrepreneur – someone bootstrapping their own company – there is value here. But understand that these folks cannot image how all of us normal business even exist — and their ignorance can be quite insulting at times.

Jon1796 ,

Great insights about business and human bias

Bob Sutton’s podcast has become as essential to my feed as freakonomics and hidden brain. The interviews are insightful, full of lessons, and ripe to help you understand your own biases. Rather than fast forward through the last minutes of credits, be sure to listen to his closing thought for each episode.

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