The Importance of Identifying Friction and Innovating Against It


Chris Copeland

The time it takes to go from start-up to an established company can be shorter than ever. How can you achieve this? Remove the points of friction to create minimal resistance.

If you want to gain a small appreciation for the rate of change made possible by technology in today’s world, simply look at the list below.

Nest, WhatsApp, Oculus, Beats by Dre, Dropcam, Emu, Twitch, and Mojang, the makers of Minecraft.

These are eight companies most people didn’t know about two years ago, and all have been acquired in the last 12 months for a combined $31 billion by Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Beyond the common bond of being acquired by industry titans, these companies also represent the future. Everyone talks about the rate of change and innovation, but these companies personify it. The time to go from start-up to established is shorter than ever. That’s all part of the digital accelerant in the water that companies can tap into now.

However, it’s even earlier in the process that change is possible that’s worth watching. It’s the rate of speed from experiencing friction to resolving to create something, to removing it, and ultimately delivering it to market.

We all go through life on a daily basis experiencing friction – the things that slow us down, inconvenience us, and generally discourage our productivity. These happen in both our personal and professional lives. The difference is that some people go from “I never want to experience…” to “Wouldn’t it be great if…” and set out to find a way to make it happen. This is not a new phenomenon, but with Kickstarter and more accessible VC funding, the rate of innovation feels greater than ever before.

If you can imagine what would make your own world better, what would make it great is minimal resistance to make that vision come true. Look at the companies list again.

Nest, WhatsApp, Oculus, Beats by Dre, Dropcam, Emu, Twitch, and Mojang, makers of Minecraft.

In every case, you can imagine the moment when someone said “Wouldn’t it be great if…” And now, companies you had little awareness of just a few years ago are not only valued and acquired for more than $30 billion, but they are acquiring other companies and spawning the next generation of dreamers will to go from negative friction to positive change.