Friction Stories

Tales of Bad Friction

In one large company, Michael Mankin and colleagues from Bain found that the large company spent 300,000 hours annually to support a single weekly executive committee meeting. Michael Mankin “This weekly meeting took 300,000 hours a week”, HBR, August 29, 2014.

Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association of 80 medical residents and 194 shifts found that residents spent only 13% of the time in direct patient care, but spent 43% interacting with medical records, and 23% of the time on indirect patient care ( viewing test results, talking to colleagues).
Source: Krisda Chaiyachati et al. “Assessment if Inpatient time allocation among first year internal medicine residents using time-motion observations”, JAMA Internal Medicine, 2019. 179(6) 760-767.

Tales of Good Friction

In 2018, the Oakland Police Department stopped 31,000 vehicles and many people were stopped even if they did not commit a crime. One additional question was added to the form that policemen needed to fill when conducting a stop: “Was it intelligence-led? Yes or No”. Adding one extra question reduced traffic stops by 40% according to my Stanford colleague, Jennifer Eberhardt. Laura Reilly, “How Oakland Police CUt Traffic Stops by 40% with a simple checkbox”, Yahoo Finance, July 1, 2019.

In 2018, Houston airport faced a slew of complaints about baggage claim. They hired more baggage handlers and the wait time fell to 8 minutes – well below industry standards. Yet, complaints persisted. Executives found that passengers spent 1 minute walking to baggage claim and 7 minutes waiting for their bags. They moved the arrival gate farther away from the main terminal and directed bags to the outtermost carousel. Passengers spent 6 minutes walking and 1 minute waiting for their bags and the complaints declined. Bradley Gabyr-Ryn “The Issue at Houston Aiport: Occupied Time and Design”, Medium. January 24, 2018