When the first voice-activated speakers were released—products like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod—I asked a friend what he liked about the product he had purchased. He said it was just easier to say “Play some country music” than to pull out his phone, open the music app, and pick a playlist. Of course, just a few years earlier, having unlimited access to music in your pocket was a remarkably frictionless behavior compared to driving to the store and buying a CD. Business is a never-ending quest to deliver the same result in an easier fashion.
Similar strategies have been used effectively by governments. When the British government wanted to increase tax collection rates, they switched from sending citizens to a web page where the tax form could be downloaded to linking directly to the form. Reducing that one step in the process increased the response rate from 19.2 percent to 23.4 percent. For a country like the United Kingdom, those percentage points represent millions in tax revenue.
The central idea is to create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. Much of the battle of building better habits comes down to finding ways to reduce the friction associated with our good habits and increase the friction associated with our bad ones.
James Clear: Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results