From the CEO: Removing friction to foster growth and streamline processes

AME | August 18, 2023

Happy summer! It seems like spring just started, yet some of our children returned to school this week. It is true that time passes quickly. We must celebrate each day because we know, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining a team of AME leaders on a trip to a company and heard one of the travelers repeatedly use the phrase “removing friction.” I had not heard “friction” used in this context before. While we jokingly used it throughout the week, it sparked thoughts about how appropriate it is for our continuous improvement community.

While everyone’s definition may differ, we settled on friction simply being anything that slows down progress, hinders people or creates unnecessary challenges. In manufacturing, friction could impact anything from processes to workflow to the supply chain. It often stems from poor communication, ineffective prioritization or an unclear focus. Friction is anything that gets in the way of people feeling and being productive.

Research studies indicate that by simplifying, decluttering and establishing clear work instructions, we can streamline our processes, enhance productivity, improve communication and foster growth, thereby reducing friction. Eliminating friction is critical to success. When we remove this resistance, we allow our team to focus on what’s important. Sounds a lot like continuous improvement and lean, doesn’t it?

I challenge everyone to reduce friction this week in their work and personal lives. Reducing friction truly allows us to move forward in a positive and people-centered way. As Eleanor Roosevelt shared, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

I hope everyone is enjoying this summer and embracing new strengths and thoughts. I look forward to seeing you all in a few short months at the AME Cleveland 2023 Conference. As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.