If You Can’t Stand Friction – Get Outta’ the Kitchen

In any workplace change is inevitable, constantly evolving business conditions are dim or bright realities for everyone in business. And some form of “friction” can usually be found riding shotgun whenever there are changes. Rarely are new locations, uniforms, menus, policies, standards, or designs met with little or no friction.

Frankly, no company has the resources to fix every crack, leverage all opportunities, fully satisfy all complaints and overflow everyone’s happiness cup. In business it has been, and will always be about making choices — some from experience or market pressure and some best guesses. Hopefully, all choices are made with the intent to improve upon results, but still, few without friction.

In order for a system to evolve and become stronger, periodic shake-ups are nature’s way of doing business. Floods, forest fires, tornados… well, you get the idea. Not that we would ever wish the ensuing aftermath of damages, loss and sadness on anybody, but is pretty tough to talk nature out of its determined course of action.

Ilya Prigogine, a Russian born, Belgian naturalized Physicist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his theory called “dissipate structures.” As it was explained to me, part of his theory contends that friction is a fundamental property of nature and NOTHING grows without it, not mountains, pearls, or people. If my limited understanding is correct, Prigogine suggested that it is the quality of fragility, with the capacity to withstand being shaken — that is the key to growth. Any structure, whether at the molecular, chemical, physical, organizational, social and even psychological level that is isolated from disturbance is also protected from friction and thus from growth.

This missive serves merely as a reminder. Change, while often viewed as the enemy, is not the enemy – inactivity, incapability, and inflexibility are. Any workplace has the potential to generate frequent friction. Friction will serve you best if you use the stimulation to grow wiser and better, more competent and responsible. Despite the above headline, if you can’t stand friction, but need a job, I honestly don’t know where to tell you to go. Friction… and then growth, it’s the natural order of things.

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