Innovation Strategies
Features vs Frictions
December 4, 2021

In a recent Hidden Brain podcast “Work 2.0: The Obstacles You Don’t See” (11/1/21), organizational psychologist Loren Nordgren discussed a challenge for consumers adopting new ideas: hidden obstacles.  With the status quo the easiest default path, even the best new feature or benefit may not be able to overcome friction from a likely invisible obstacle.

A simple example was a new custom furniture company:  while consumers loved designing their new couch online, they often dropped out before purchase.  Although the team worried price was the issue, further ethnographic research revealed a simple obstacle:  getting rid of the old couch.  The company then offered to take away the old couch with purchase, and sales (at the original prices) soared.

Most innovators tend to focus on creating new features or benefits.  But success may ultimately be more dependent on what friction can be removed.  Removal of an obstacle may even be the best new feature or benefit you can offer!  So as you explore possibilities, take time to consider what existing frictions you can eliminate for your customers, and smooth the path to success for your new product.