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Interview

Interview: It’s not about the Fuel, it’s about the Friction

Leaders of digital and ecommerce are always trying to influence the adoption of new ideas - new products and brands by shoppers, and new ideas for how internal teams must transform to both meet the challenges of a shopper-led buying journey and to maximize growth. David Schonthal, professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School, is co-author of The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas. For every marketer that’s been brought up on The Law of Attraction, this book illuminates the other side of influencing behaviors - the frictions that stand in the way, and the best strategies and processes for identifying and overcoming them. Molly Schonthal (yes, a relation) joins Peter Crosby as co-host.

Peter Crosby:
Welcome to Unpacking the Digital Shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age. Hey everyone, Peter Crosby here from the Digital Shelf Institute. Leaders of digital and e-commerce are always trying to influence the adoption of new ideas, new products and brands by shoppers, and new ideas for how internal teams must transform to both meet the challenges of a shopper led buying journey and to maximize growth. David Schonthal, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School is co-author of The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance that Awaits New Ideas. For every marketer that's been brought up on the law of attraction, this book illuminates the other side of influencing behaviors, the frictions that stand in the way, and the best strategies and processes for identifying and overcoming them. Molly Schonthal, yes, a relation, join me as co-host. So David, thank you so much for... Or should I call you Professor Schonthal?

David Schonthal:
David works fine.

Peter Crosby:
Thank you. I want to show you the proper respect, but thank you so much for joining the podcast. The book is spectacular.

David Schonthal:
Thank you, and thanks for having me.

Peter Crosby:
No, of course. I feel like in the spirit of transparency that our listeners should know the fact that you and Molly share a last name. It's not a coincidence. You were in fact two of three triplets of the Schonthal family of Chicago.

David Schonthal:
The Chicago Schonthals, not to be accused with-

Peter Crosby:
The Poughkeepsie.

David Schonthal:
Right. The Providence Schonthals.

Peter Crosby:
Oh yeah, I never talk to them. So what in the world possessed you to come on a podcast co-hosted by your sibling? It can't possibly end well for you.

David Schonthal:
I think it was really just the feeling of guilt if I didn't. It was the likelihood of awkward Thanksgivings and Christmases.

Peter Crosby:
Well I'm sure that will happen no matter what.

Molly Schonthal:
So I was gearing up to pass the turkey. Why didn’t you agree to that podcast?

David Schonthal:
I'll only pass you the Turkey if you explain to me in a way that I'm okay with why you didn't join the podcast.

Peter Crosby:
Stuffing would be a bigger threat for me, but I totally understand the draw. But seriously, even if you weren't Molly's brother, I would say this, that I opened the podcast saying, you and Loren Nordgren have written a truly extraordinary book for, and I quote, "Anyone that wants to introduce something new into the world." I got to say, that's an ambitious mission. So what is the core idea of your book that makes it that universal, no matter the new idea.

David Schonthal:
Yeah, well maybe just a little bit of context on how Loren and I teamed up on this. So we're both professors at the Kellogg School. Loren is a psychologist and studies organization and behavioral design, and I study and have worked in entrepreneurship and innovation. And we have spent a lot of time together talking about common interests in areas of curiosity. And one question that was really interesting to both of us, Loren from the human psychology perspective, and me from the applied side, is why is it that people say no to what are clearly good ideas? Why is it that consumers or organizations are resistant to really compelling new ideas? And are there psychological phenomena that explain that? And how might we take those insights and apply them to new strategies that make it easier for people to say yes?

David Schonthal:
So it's really the partnership between Loren's research background and my applied background that makes this book work. And we wanted to be very clear that this isn't just a business book about change. The fact that we're both Kellogg professors doesn't mean that this is only about business. This is about any time you're asking somebody to change from the status quo to something new, these forces or frictions, which we're going to talk about, are always at play, and by spotting them in reducing them, you can not only sell products and services or implement strategies, you can also change the dynamics in your household or work with your colleagues better. So we designed it deliberately and we wrote it deliberately to have broad application.

Peter Crosby:
So David, one of the things that I thought... You talked about earlier, so talking about the friction. Can you walk us through a little bit, the law of attraction, which is at the core of your book?

David Schonthal:
So the law of attraction is human beings' overwhelming bias to thinking that if somebody's not saying yes to an idea, there's something wrong with the idea. Like if we're not making the sale to the customer, it's something wrong with the way that we're pricing it or it's something wrong with the way that we're packaging it or messaging it. And we think that because that's the culprit, the answer is we have to speak about it differently, or we have to wrap it in a different kind of brand or we've got to price it differently. And the law of attraction is really meant to encapsulate this idea that as innovators or as salespeople or marketers, our overwhelming bias is that if people aren't doing what we hope they will do, there's something wrong with the thing that we're trying to get them to do. There's something wrong with the product or service.

Peter Crosby:
And to convince them, you throw fuel on that fire.

David Schonthal:
That's right. To convince them the idea is to make the thing more magnetic, and we have entire departments of business schools built around creating more magnetic offers. We call this adding fuel, a fuel based mindset. So we have marketing departments and we have sales classes and we have advertising strategy classes, and these are all about how to heighten the appeal of an idea. But one of the things we point out in this book is that it's helpful, but that's only one half of the equation. That addresses moving the thing forward to market, giving it some momentum, but it doesn't address all of the headwinds that stand in the way of that change. So this book is really written about how to identify those headwinds and mitigate those.

Molly Schonthal:
David, one of the cases that you highlighted in the book, which is threaded throughout the narrative, is the story of a disruptive sofa manufacturer called Beach House, for the sake of anonymity. Can you walk us through their journey a little bit and talk about some of the principles that you underline in the book?

David Schonthal:
Yeah, sure. We can definitely talk about that. So as you mentioned, Beach House is a custom furniture manufacturer. And what Beach House does is create custom pieces of furniture for a fraction of the cost of what traditional custom furniture would ordinarily be. Sometimes as much as 70% less. And not only do they create custom furniture like sofas and chairs and things like this, they allow you to customize every piece of it and they will still deliver it to your home within 10 weeks, which is a remarkable feat when you consider all of the complexity and labor that goes into this. Now that may have changed somewhat since COVID with the supply chain stuff that we're seeing out in the world, but that was the core value proposition of-

Peter Crosby:
Are we having supply chain problems? I hadn't heard?

David Schonthal:
Somebody told me something about that. I'm not sure. I also heard something about inflation, but I-

Peter Crosby:
It's a rumor.

David Schonthal:
So the idea of really inexpensive custom furniture, super appealing. In fact, they have hundreds of thousands of visitors to their site every day. They've got thousands of visitors to their retail stores. And many of them spend as much as an hour inside store or inside of the online shopping experience building the perfect sofa, customizing the legs, customizing the fabric, customizing the color, the design, the shape, and right at the end, when they're about to click purchase to actually execute the transaction, or right when they're about to sign the paperwork inside of the store, something pretty unusual happens, and what happens is that they don't do anything. They either abandon their cart in the online shopping experience, or they walk out of the store. And when they walk out of the store, they'll usually say something like, "Well, I need to think about it a little bit," which can mean a thousand things. But there's something that stands in the way of their openness to actually completing the transaction.

David Schonthal:
Now, if you are a Beach House marketer, if you're a digital marketer, if you're a UX/UI designer, your immediate thinking is what is it about the product that they don't like? Are they uncomfortable with our warranty? Are they worried about delays and shipping? Is it too much tax? What is it that's actually stopping them from completing the transaction? And most people, if you look at the journey digitally will say, "Oh, well, it happens right before they click buy, so surely they've seen the fully compiled price and they're like, 'This is too much for me.'" And if you were under that assumption, if you had that kind of fuel based mindset, that there's something wrong with the thing or something wrong with the way we're pricing it, what you'll probably do is start doing promotions and discounts and changing things around how you articulate the value proposition and how happy people will be when they buy the sofa.

David Schonthal:
But when you study what actually happens in real life, the problem is something entirely different. And it's almost comical how simple the problem actually is when you study why it is that people don't actually execute the purchase of this new sofa, for example. It has nothing to do with the price. It has nothing to do with the value proposition. It has nothing to do with the customization features. In fact, those things were all so compelling that they spent an hour on the site in the first place. The reason that they did not click by was because they couldn't figure out in their own mind what they were going to do with the existing sofa that's already in their home.

David Schonthal:
Mind you, these are Gen Z and Millennials and Gen Xers who live in urban cities overwhelmingly is who the population is, and they live in apartments that have elevators and stairs. And what's going on in the consumer's mind is, "How am I going to get the sofa out of my living room to get the new one in? Do I have to bring it down the stairs by myself? Or will my friends come over and help? And then do I just leave it in the alley? Does the city-"

Molly Schonthal:
Did the sale of chainsaws go up in that moment?

David Schonthal:
In some ways people were like, "Do I have to disassemble the... How am I going to get this?" And until they can figure out in their mind what they're going to do with the existing sofa, they can't go through the process of completing this purchase. So while the traditional viewpoint of marketers is there's something wrong with the way we're going to market, the answer is pretty elegant. It's just makes it easier for them to get rid of the existing things so that they can put the new thing in their house. And of course, if your Beach House you're like, "All right, well, we'll automatically remove the sofa when we deliver the new one, and maybe we'll donate it to charity to give a little bit of a feeling of increased value."

David Schonthal:
But I think it's the perfect metaphor for how often, as marketers, individuals think that if somebody's not doing the thing we want, there's something wrong with the way we're marketing it. And what the Beach House example, I think, beautifully points out is sometimes it's not increasing the desirability of your thing that's the problem, it's removing what's standing in the way of them saying yes.

Peter Crosby:
And the sales increase was dramatic, I believe.

David Schonthal:
Significant. Multiples. I mean, we don't publish it exactly, but it's multiples over what they were doing before.

Peter Crosby:
That's so cool. So I think now that you've brought that to life. Maybe you can quickly walk us through the four frictions that you outlined in the book.

David Schonthal:
Yeah, so the friction that was present in that particular example were two, two of the four. The four frictions are inertia, number one, which is the answer to this question. How much of a departure is this new thing from the status quo? Human beings are creatures of habit. We say this a lot. What does that really mean? It means that we underestimate just how much people favor the familiar over the unfamiliar. Which is why despite the fact that people know they should implement a new system, they should implement a new strategy, they should date somebody different than who they're dating right now, there's a comfort in the familiar, even though the familiar might be imperfect. This measures the amount of inertia present in any change.

David Schonthal:
The second one is the friction of effort, how much exertion is required to implement the change, and it's not just physical exertion. It's not necessarily bringing the sofa down the stairs, which is of course physical exertion. It's also the ambiguity of how you're going to implement a change. How do I even start? Do I start by calling my friends? Do I start by doing measurements? How do I implement this new strategy? Do I hire a contractor? Do I do it myself? Sometimes the ambiguity of a change can cause us so much cognitive load that that makes us like, "Ah, I'm resistant to it."

David Schonthal:
And what's constantly surprising, and I'm happy to talk a little bit about how this applies to e-commerce in particular, or digital, is it's not usually something big that causes the problem. It's something very small. Like the example of Beach House. It's not all of the time they spent designing the sofa that's the hangup, it's this little thing about what do I do with my sofa? And in the case of e-commerce in retail, sometimes little micro bits of friction are what actually causes somebody to churn, not the things that you think.

David Schonthal:
The third friction is emotion, the undesired feelings we cause and others by the change we're trying to implement. Anytime you're asking somebody to change there's always going to be some level of anxiety. There's always going to be some level of trepidation. There's always going to be some nervousness or fear. How do we mitigate that? So for example, in Beach House, it might be the nervousness of like, "Well, what happens if it doesn't look as good in my space as I thought? What happens if it doesn't fit as well as I thought it would? What happens if there's a problem and months later I need to get it fixed?" Those anxieties can stand in the way of change, and we call that, again, emotional friction.

David Schonthal:
And the fourth one, which I think anybody in the United States is probably living anytime you read the newspaper is something we call reactance, which is a human being's natural aversion to being changed by others. Human beings value, almost above all else, their autonomy, their feelings. They're feeling like they're in control of their own experience or control of their decisions, and anytime they feel like something is being imposed upon them or it's a hard sale or a tough negotiation or they're being mandated to do something, no matter how useful or compelling that idea is, human beings will resist the sensation of being changed, resist that feeling, and that measures the amount of reactance present. And not all four frictions are present to the same degree in any change, but many of them are. And I think, again, as innovators, our temptation is to wait until problems occur to address them. What we've noticed with friction theory is that these things are always easier to address when they're spotted up front versus when they become a problem down the road.

Molly Schonthal:
Inertia in particular is really compelling as a friction that could apply to any brand manufacturer who is trying to expand their omnichannel or e-commerce practice. In fact, we run into it almost all the time. You mentioned that you have some thoughts about how this might apply to the leaders in the industries that we work with. Can you expand on that?

David Schonthal:
Yeah, I mean, inertia and effort are interesting ones to spotlight. Inertia, if you ascribe to this idea that that humans favor things that are familiar, change, by definition, introducing something unfamiliar into an environment where people favor something they know. And I think we as marketers or as innovators often underestimate something that we feel is a small change is actually a pretty big change to our audience, so we have this curse of knowledge. We're familiar with this system. We're familiar with this channel. We're familiar with this strategy. And we overestimate how comfortable others will be, when in fact most people don't like things that are unfamiliar to them. And only when we address that problem can we actually expand the size of the market?

David Schonthal:
An example, a quick example that's kind of a good one. For those of you that are old enough to remember computing in 1980s, personal computing in the 1980s, if you go back to like 1988, 1989, and you remember what a computer looked like, it was an IBM computer or a Wang, or a Commodore computer.And if you wanted a personal computer for at home or work, in order to make that computer do things you wanted it to do, you actually had to speak fluently the language of computer. You went into a DOS based window and you would have to type in run, colon, backslash, and a bunch of commands in order for it to do the thing you wanted it to do. You had to converse with the computer in the language of the computer.

David Schonthal:
When Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were trying to introduce the first personal computer from Apple, their ambition was to get a computer into the home of every American. Now, in order to do that, they had two choices. One, they could hope that every American would learn the language of DOS based computing and then try to make a better form factor of computers for people to have in their living room. Or they could take something that was unfamiliar and actually try to make it more familiar in order to grow the size of the market, which is of course what they did. They tried to design an interface that didn't require people to learn or get up the learning curve.

David Schonthal:
They designed an interface that worked the way the rest of people's world worked, which is why it's no accident that the home screen of an Apple computer is called a desktop even to this day. And you create documents on that desktop and you store documents in folders. And when you want to put something in the trash, you take it and you drag it in the trash. In fact, I don't know how many of you have ever tried to switch from a PC based user interface, like a PC to a Mac, but if you've used a PC for a while, and then you change to a Mac, you almost have to unlearn everything that you know about computers to use it because you don't control alt F2 shortcut to do things. It works the way your analog world works. When you want to put something in the trash, you click it and you drag it into the trash can.

David Schonthal:
But what Jobs and Wozniak were able to do, by making this unfamiliar idea, even though inside of the Apple computer were tons of innovation and tons of powerful things, by simplifying it in a way that everyone could understand, they made it easier for people to say yes, which is a key strategy to not just gaining more share of an existing market, but to actually growing the market. One of the reasons that markets don't grow is because people find that change intimidating. The less intimidating you make that change the more likely that you're actually going to increase the total addressable market versus just carve out a bigger slice for yourself.

Peter Crosby:
One of the things I loved when you opened this section of inertia, you gave an example from Breaking Bad, where... For those of you that have seen there, there are two meth dealers that are essentially in... Well, no, not essentially, an RV cooking up meth and they become quite successful at this time, and one of the characters, Jesse, says, "Why do we keep it? Why do we cook out of the world's shittiest RV?" And Walter says, "Inertia, Jesse. Yeah. Inertia."

David Schonthal:
Yeah. And this is probably the only time that Breaking Bad will be mentioned in a [crosstalk 00:19:31] business book, especially.

Peter Crosby:
Pretty sure that is true. But in this inertia thing, you come up with, and we don't have time to go through all of them, but the ways of transforming a novel idea into a familiar friend. Is there one of them that stands out to you that you would want to mention to a brand manufacturer struggling with making people buy in new ways or adapting to people buying in new ways?

David Schonthal:
Well, I mean, I think that even just the way that you framed it is kind of a good one, which is we can't make people do anything. What we can do is we can make it easier for them to do the thing they already want to do. And frankly, that's the perfect encapsulation of friction theory. It's not trying to get somebody to do something, it's removing the obstacles standing in the way of progress they're already trying to make. And there's a couple ways that we can address inertia. I mean, one we just talked about, which is making an unfamiliar thing feel more familiar, and there's lots of different approaches and strategies to that. The other is starting small. If we're trying to get somebody to implement a large change, people often resist... The larger the change, the larger the departure from the status quo, the more intimidating and the more inertia present. So one way we can minimize the amount of inertia is by shrinking the size of the change we're asking them to make.

David Schonthal:
So we see this show up a lot right now under the umbrella of digital transformation, like we talked before about supply chain's having a moment and inflation's having a moment. Digital transformation, you can't read a headline or read a business magazine without seeing something about digital transformation. First question with digital transformations, what does that even mean? It's like disruption, what does that even mean? But when organizations and leaders go into their companies and say, "We're going to go through a digital transformation process," most people in the organization are like, "Whoa, does that mean the whole organization has to change? What are we actually transforming?" And even just by calling it digital transformation, it sounds overwhelming and Herculean, which make people resistant to the idea even before they understand what it means.

David Schonthal:
There's a company that we feature in the book called Public Digital, which is in the business, they are solely in the business of transforming organizations digitally. In fact, the organizations they transform are a little different, I think, from Salsify clients. They're public organizations, they're government organizations and NGOs and nonprofits. So they go into these organizations, which are overwhelmingly traditional, and trying to get them to enact ways of doing things more efficiently through digital first approaches. And one of the design principles of Public Digital is never to call it digital transformation.

David Schonthal:
Instead, rather than going to an organization and start with this big lofty goal, "We're going to transform digitally, and here's how we're all going to get involved," they found it easier to reduce that kind of inertia related friction, frankly, even emotional for friction by rather than talking about it at this macro level to say, all right, what is the next major... What is the next priority that this organization has to tackle? What's the next bite size project that we have to deal with as an organization? How might we look at that one project and take a digital first approach with that? Not the whole organization, just with this one beacon project.

David Schonthal:
And then they assemble a very small team of people that are open to trying a new way of doing things and they share out what they're learning along the way. And at the end of that project, they've got a result to share with the rest of the organization and say, "This is what we were able to do by doing this differently." And the rest of the organization can see the results and say, "Oh, look at how fast they did it. Look how more efficient it was. Look at how much data they were able to harvest and insights they were able to gather. How might we employ that approach to other projects in the organization?" So this is really under this big umbrella of even though the change you want to enact might be big. It doesn't mean you should start big. You might want to start with something small and tangible and show people the benefit versus just trying to tell them about it.

Molly Schonthal:
It rings really true because I was on a call this week with a very senior person at a CPG, or consumer packaged goods company, and he was set up with me in a professional sense to be a little bit of a reverse mentor. The woman we traditionally work with at this company had suggested that one of her presidents connect with us, because while they have years and years and years of history in making money on the physical shelf and have occupied a lot of different roles there, he is new to the world of digital. And after speaking with him, it occurred to me that it's a little bit ludicrous of us to think that we can just ask for senior level conversation and expect senior leaders to readily offer up stuff they don't understand or know to us, to expose gaps in our thinking and logic. And I think we depend on it, an understanding that doesn't exist, and risks stepping on personal identity all the time as a result.

David Schonthal:
Yeah, I mean, I think that's a great example. I think it's also the explanation of why when somebody from another company comes to a new company, they bring all those old practices along, they bring all those old approaches along, all those old frames of reference. And we hope that they will adjust to the new culture, but the inertia of the way that they were doing it before is super sticky, and it takes a long time to get people on board with a different culture or a different process. So yeah, it's ever present

Peter Crosby:
One of the other frictions that stood out to me, and this is the last one we will cover, and you have to read the book if you want the other two frictions and way more detail. And I will also say, David, that one of the great things about the book is that you include so much guidance and hints and questions that people can ask to explore if their idea will be subject to one or more of these frictions and how they might go about addressing it, so the practicality of the book is really good as well. So I just wanted to call that out.

David Schonthal:
Thanks, Peter.

Peter Crosby:
I wanted to dig into emotion-

David Schonthal:
I'm never going to feel as good leaving a podcast as I have after this one.

Peter Crosby:
Well, Molly's not done with you yet.

David Schonthal:
If you could see me, my head is now gigantic, filling the entire little Zoom box.

Molly Schonthal:
I actually... Peter, before you get into that, I have a fun story for us.

Peter Crosby:
Oh please.

Molly Schonthal:
So Dave was saying you can't make anyone do anything, which yeah... I mean, logic would say that makes a ton of sense. A little known fact about the origins of Bonnie Raitt's song, I Can't Make You Love Me, this is the background. Lou Reed read an article about a man arrested for getting drunk and shooting at his girlfriend's car. The judge asked him if he had learned anything to which he replied, "I learned, your honor, that you can't make a woman love you if she don't."

David Schonthal:
Is that really the origin story?

Molly Schonthal:
Aha.

David Schonthal:
Wow.

Molly Schonthal:
That is maybe put that in the book next time.

David Schonthal:
The second edition we will weave that very interesting story in.

Peter Crosby:
So much of what resonated for me for our audience was the emotional friction. Your subtitle to that is why the best ideas produce the most anxiety. And I feel that a lot in my job. So to tell me what Betty Crocker has to do with that.

David Schonthal:
Yeah. So I love this story. So first of all, I think many of us have... If you've ever baked a cake in your life, there's a chance that at some point you've used a cake mix, it's just something that American consumers use a lot. In fact, 60 million Americans use prepackaged mix to bake their cakes every year. 60 million more use prepackaged mixes than make it from scratch. But when cake mix was first introduced into the market in the late 1920s, it was far from an overnight success. In fact, it took about 25, almost 30 years for cake mix to actually catch on as something Americans use. And if you go back to the early 30s, late 20s, early 30s, when General Mills, who is the parent company of Betty Crocker, was trying to introduce cake mix into the world, they tried to make it as easy as possible for American bakers.

David Schonthal:
In fact, all you had to do at the time was just add water and mix it, and then you would bake the perfect cake. And it never really got any traction until the 50s, and the overwhelming instinct of people that are selling cake mix, sort of like the Beach House example as well, there must be something wrong with the taste or there must be something wrong with the product. Well, as it turns out in blind taste tests in consumer research, the cake mixes performed as well, if not better, in taste profiles than homemade cake. So there was nothing wrong with the actual cake and it saved just tons of time. They didn't have to spend the time mixing the ingredients or going shopping for all the ingredients.

David Schonthal:
It was the perfect solution. It minimized effort, it minimized inertia. It wasn't a particularly challenging product for people to wrap their heads around. So why was it that cake mix wasn't selling like crazy as it is today? And this really puzzled General Mills. They tried changing formulations. They tried changing price, advertising. In an act of desperation, what they wound up doing was hiring a Viennese psychologist named Ernest Dichter.

Peter Crosby:
Of course. Of course that was his name.

David Schonthal:
Right, totally. And now picture what a Viennese, like Freudian psychologist looks like in a marketing role, and that is exactly... The image you were holding in your head is precisely what Ernest Dichter looked like. So he looked at consumer behavior in the same way that psychologists looked at consumer behavior, which is there are probably a variety of internal and external forces that make people either make the choices they make or make them resistant to choices. So he was one of the first people to apply psychological principles to marketing and advertising.

David Schonthal:
And to spare you the long details of the story, what Ernest Dichter discovered in his research with people buying cake mixes was that the problem wasn't that they didn't taste good, that they weren't easy. In fact, the problem according to Dichter was that General Mills actually made it too easy. They made it too easy for these home bakers to bake cakes. Because now if all I need to do is add water and stir, is this still homemade? Did I make this, or did General Mills make this? And if you think about what a cake is, it is like the ultimate embodiment of sentiment. It's like the ultimate greeting card You bake cakes for-

Molly Schonthal:
Remember that Rice Krispy ad where the woman would put flour on her face after baking the Rice Krispy Treats, and then go back and pretend...

David Schonthal:
No, but I do remember the scene in European Vacation where they go to a French restaurant and in the back and the kitchen, it's just a bunch of French chefs microwaving TV dinners and bringing it back.

Molly Schonthal:
That's the best.

David Schonthal:
Yeah. Where was I? So they made it too easy. So if you think about why you bake a cake, you bake a cake to celebrate another person. You bake a cake for an event. And some of the benefit of that cake is not just the cake itself, but also like the recognition that somebody spent a bunch of time and effort making it. And what General Mills had inadvertently done is, by taking out that effort related friction, they actually added an emotional effort because now people are like, "Well, it doesn't feel like I made it. It feels like cheating. I can't use a cake mix. I can't use a cake mix. That doesn't feel like it's coming from me," which is what caused this big aversion to people using it. So what did Ernest Dichter do? He recommended introducing just a little bit of friction back into the process to give these home bakers the sensation that this was something they were actually making themselves. So the ingredient he chose, for a variety of reasons, some of which are deeply, deeply Freudian-

Molly Schonthal:
I'm going to try not to comment on this.

David Schonthal:
Yeah. His recommendation was to introduce, instead of having powdered eggs in the mix, to have the bakers crack two fresh eggs into the cake mix, and by buying fresh eggs and whisking the eggs in and making the batter, all of a sudden that little bit of friction would change the relationship to the cake from something that was too easy to something now that I'm actually making. I feel like I have made this. And simply by introducing this little bit of friction back into the mix, sales went through the roof to the point where now cake mix is ubiquitous, as is anything in the baking section of a grocery store. But it just goes to show you that even though you think you might be helping people by removing effort, emotional friction is hiding in some unexpected places. And only when you understand why people are doing the things they do can you really decode why emotional friction might be standing in the way.

Molly Schonthal:
Peter, this just in, let's make implementation harder.

Peter Crosby:
I think that's exactly...

David Schonthal:
You've obviously not been paying attention, Molly.

Molly Schonthal:
No, seriously though, it just occurred to me that when I was working more in the social media area, we had a company that uses AI scoring of images rate a couple different images from a seasoning company across, I believe it was Instagram and Facebook, and the ones that showed a picture of the recipe with a fresh egg, again, on the top, score higher. There it is.

David Schonthal:
There's Dichter living on. This is a B2C example, but there's also B2B examples. And I guess I won't mention the details of this, because I know we're low on time, but it's important to remember for anybody who's in B2B also that even though we talk about B2C as one type of company and B2B as a different type of company, inside of Bs are really just a bunch of CS. So you might be marketing to General Mills or marketing to Proctor and Gamble, but that's just an entity. Inside of those entities are individuals who act a lot like consumers making decisions on behalf of their organizations. So even though this might be a good thing for General Mills, maybe that individual inside of General Mills has some aversion or some anxiety or some trepidation.

David Schonthal:
What does this mean if it doesn't go well for my career? I'm taking a personal risk by adopting this platform. What if it doesn't deliver what I'm promising to my board? What does that mean for me? And if we don't take into account the individual feelings of those people involved in the decision making process, we're also missing a huge opportunity to remove emotional friction. So I want to be careful to point out that even though a lot of these examples are B2C, this is very, very, very similar in B2B.

Peter Crosby:
So Professor Schonthal, is that why you called the book The Human Element?

David Schonthal:
Oh, it is indeed.

Peter Crosby:
Caught that.

David Schonthal:
Nice button to put on the end. Yes, the reason we call it The Human Element is because the very people we're trying to serve are usually the ones we least consider when we're trying to bring the new things to market.

Peter Crosby:
So David... Go ahead, Molly, sorry.

Molly Schonthal:
The extraterrestrial element is coming next, I assume.

David Schonthal:
That's true. I mean, eventually we are going to branch out and get to other species. In fact, fun story, Loren, my co-author, is a very, very big observer and scholar of the natural world. In fact, a lot of animal behavior explains or illustrates human behavior. So throughout this book, there are constant examples of how human beings behave like shore crabs and birds. So something for everybody in The Human Element. [crosstalk 00:35:45].

Peter Crosby:
I've seen a lot of animalistic behavior over the last couple years, so that makes perfect sense. I resonate with it.

Molly Schonthal:
[crosstalk 00:35:54] shore crabs, Peter. How are you going to wrap this up?

Peter Crosby:
Well, I'm going to wrap this up by throwing the gauntlet down back to David. Does the shoemaker have good shoes, which is I want to know how would an author, say, of a new business book, reduce the friction to getting someone to read that new business book, no matter how impactful it might be?

David Schonthal:
That's so funny. So we actually were really conscious about this, that we can't just write a book on removing friction and then involve a lot of friction in the process of consuming the knowledge. So despite the obvious of having multiple form factors of it, ebooks and audiobooks, et cetera, one thing we were deliberate at the beginning, and still are deliberate with what we do is for example, when somebody invites us to come and give a talk in an organization on friction theory, and they want to put a book in the hands of everybody in their company, one way to do it... First of all, think about if you're trying to put on an event and buy a bunch of books.

David Schonthal:
Now I've actually made it really hard for you as the consumer of this to figure out how you're going to manage this. I've got to order a bunch of books, a big pallet of books or whatever box of books is going to show up in my office. And then I need to have either people come to my office and pick them up, but some people are working at home, so then I have to drop ship them to every individual. So now this thing that was a really cool idea at the very beginning becomes more laborious, and now I'm introducing effort, and I'm introducing emotional friction. And sometimes that's like, "Well, maybe this isn't a good idea."

David Schonthal:
So one of the things we wanted to do, particularly for companies, is create a process where we worked with our distributor, and if you wanted to order a book for... If you wanted us to give a talk and you wanted to order a book for every one of your employees, all you needed to do was give us a spreadsheet with their names and addresses, and we would drop ship a book to everybody's home, including a note from the authors or whatever might make it special. So all you needed to do as somebody organizing the talk was to give a credit card and a bunch of addresses in the spreadsheet. We would take care of minimizing all of the other effort involved in that, so you're still delivering that very personal sentiment. We've just made that job easier. So we're constantly looking for ways of how do we live the principles in this book and not just espouse them because they can be as useful in that context as well as getting your kids to eat their vegetables.

Peter Crosby:
Well, it is good to hear that you took your own advice, because it's super important. And I will try and reduce the friction of our listeners finding your book, if they are so inspired. I mean, I'll put the link in the show notes, but I'm not sure how many people use that, so just Google The Human Element book and you will see Google ads shopping line up a bunch of options for where you [crosstalk 00:38:37]-

Molly Schonthal:
And then use one finger to click.

Peter Crosby:
Click shopping, it'll guide you through the [crosstalk 00:38:42]-

Molly Schonthal:
Glove on and you're on a mobile device. Make sure that you take the glove off or if it's... Sorry.

Peter Crosby:
To be honest, I did want more sibling mockery on this podcast, but the interplay has been very entertaining, so I appreciate it.

David Schonthal:
Well next time you have me back we'll make it a more [crosstalk 00:39:00]-

Molly Schonthal:
Do a round two.

David Schonthal:
More mockery forward [crosstalk 00:39:04].

Peter Crosby:
Thank you to the Schonthals of Chicago for the contribution, and... No, seriously, David, I've said it and then I'll stop because we're out of time, but really, really cool book. I'm looking forward to putting it to work in the ways that I think about... We're in a very fast changing industry and we are constantly trying to figure out how to get people to adopt new ideas inside and out. So I appreciated the ideas in the book and the guidance, so thank you so much for taking the time out to come on the podcast and talk us through it.

David Schonthal:
Thanks for having me. This was fun.

Peter Crosby:
Thanks again to David for joining us. As promised, the link to his book will be in the show notes or just Google The Human Element book in your Google machine. Thanks for being part of our community.

The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance that Awaits New Ideas