David Schonthal: The Human Element
David Schonthal is an award-winning Professor of Strategy, Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management where he teaches courses on new venture creation, design thinking, healthcare innovation and creativity. In addition to his teaching, he also serves as the Director of Entrepreneurship Programs and the Faculty Director of the Zell Fellows Program.
Along with his colleague Loran Nordgren, David is one of the originators of Friction Theory – a ground-breaking methodology that explains why even the most promising innovations and change initiatives often struggle to gain traction with their intended audiences – and what to do about it. He is the author with Loran of The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas*.
In this conversation, David and I discuss how leaders can do a better job at helping others overcome resistance to a new idea. We explore the distinction between friction and fuel — and why leaders tend to miss opportunities to reduce friction. David also shares several, practical strategies that almost all of us can use to reduce the weight of friction with those we are trying to influence.
- When introducing something new, we tend to think more about fuel than we do about friction. Both are essential for traction.
- Repetition is missed opportunity in most organizations. Leaders tend to want to perfect the details too much.
- Start small with a beacon project to prototype the value change may bring to the organization.
- Leaning in on making a new idea prototypical will help it be more familiar to those you are trying to influence. Emphasize what is similar — not just what is new.
- Analogies can help bridge the gap between the new and the familiar. Use an analogy the audience can relate to.
- Adding an extreme option and/or an undesirable can help transform inertia from a friction into a fuel.
- The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas* by Loren Nordgren and David Schonthal
- How to Succeed with Leadership and Management, with John Kotter (episode 249)
- How to Pivot Quickly, with Steve Blank (episode 476)
- The Way Innovators Get Traction, with Tendayi Viki (episode 512)
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