The Frictionless Company (Organisational Usability)

Marketing research suggests that after waiting 3 seconds, 57% of consumers will abandon a website, and 80% of these won’t return. But we are forced almost daily to sit for hours waiting for our crappy work laptops or work phones to do what they’re bloody-well supposed to be doing!

Consumer_Psychology_Infographicvouchercloud (2)

Why is this psychological torture so rife within organisations, and why do we not hold our companies to account?

Probably the answer is that it’s the norm. I’ve worked for 4 companies in my career to-date, and none of them have avoided causing me technological anguish at some stage. Despite this, there’s a strong correlation between the size of an organisation and its ability to be frustrating.

Working in an agency, if something got in the way of me doing my job, I’d march up to the CEO, and they’d say, “sure, go and fix it”. In the corporate world I end up filling out forms, having meetings and calling the helpdesk which is often the opposite of helpful.

I, like you, just want to get stuff done in work. I only want to do a good job, quickly, efficiently and with as little friction as possible.

In my personal life, things run pretty smoothly in comparison. I use whatever app or website I choose, and if any of them delay me for 3 seconds, I’m off… see ya, I’ll find something else that will work.


“Design thinking” is something we try and apply to learning and development for clients. The simplest way I can describe this is – find out what’s getting in the way of people performing well in work, and remove these barriers.

As an example, “design thinking” can be applied to the physical environment as well as the online one. Self-service check-out machines are probably my least favourite invention ever. I have nightmares of the automated, “please place the item in the bagging area”, and the look of helplessness as you scan the shop for an assistant, the police car light flashing red above you.

I’m not picking on Tesco, they’re all crap!

Self-service check-out machines are an analogy for most large companies. Constant approval required at every stage, regular delay, technological failure and employee dissatisfaction.

Looking at a problem like this and coming up with creative ways to make people’s lives easier, is what my work is all about. We get branded with the “Learning” title but really, it’s not about learning at all. It’s about organisational usability.

Learning is just another form of friction. Having to remember and apply something is time wasted. Do you learn anything when you use Google Maps? I know from experience that 99% of the time, I turn up in a place with no idea how I got there. This leaves me valuable brain time to contemplate other things, work related or otherwise.


This may feel horrifying to some people who take pride in their ability to remember technical information. These are the London cab drivers of the working world, striking because technology has shown how inefficient and out-dated their system is.

So, this is your task for today. When you go into work, make a list of all the things that get in the way of you doing your job. It could be simple things like accessing the building or switching on your laptop. This is your organisational usability diagnosis. Now it’s up to you, to get these barriers gone!

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