The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas book summary

Date Published: September 28, 2021

The Human Element: Summary

Ever wondered why some groundbreaking ideas fail while others soar? Dive into "The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas" by Loran Nordgren and David Schonthal to uncover the secret. While most innovators focus on amplifying the appeal of their ideas, often termed as the "fuel-based mindset", the authors suggest a paradigm shift. Instead of merely adding more benefits and features, they advocate for understanding and reducing the psychological frictions that hinder the adoption of innovations.

By adopting a "friction-based mindset", innovators can address the real barriers to change and ensure their ideas are not just appealing but also easily adoptable. The book delves deep into the four primary frictions that act against innovation and provides actionable insights on how to overcome them. It's not just about giving your idea thrust; it's about ensuring it has the right aerodynamics to take flight.

The Human Element: Overcoming the Resistance That Awaits New Ideas book summary
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The Human Element

Author: David Schonthal, Loran Nordgren

Date Published: September 28, 2021

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The Human Element: Genres

Business Economics
Business Management
Business and Economics
Business Communication
Business Literature
Organizational Behavior

The Human Element: Themes

Fuel-Based Mindset vs. Friction-Based Mindset: The former focuses on adding more features and benefits to make an idea attractive, while the latter emphasizes understanding and reducing barriers to adoption.

Inertia: The strong inclination to maintain the status quo. Overcoming this requires positioning the innovation as a minor adjustment to the usual, rather than a drastic shift. For instance, presenting an innovation as a slight tweak to business as usual can help reduce resistance.

Effort: The energy, whether real or perceived, needed to implement change. Demonstrating the ease of implementing a new approach and highlighting its high rewards versus low costs can mitigate this friction.

Emotion: The unintended negative feelings that arise from change. Ensuring that an innovation doesn’t pose a threat and actively reducing associated anxieties can help in alleviating this friction.

Reactance: The innate human tendency to resist change. Lowering reactance involves ensuring that individuals don’t feel forced into adopting an innovation. Building genuine interest and sparking curiosity about how the innovation performs can be more effective.


For instance, a furniture company couldn’t grasp why customers would design their own couch but then abandon the purchase. Initially, they thought adding more features would help. However, upon interacting with customers, they realized the friction was about what to do with their old couches. By offering a solution to pick up and donate old couches, they addressed the friction, leading to a surge in sales.

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