Frictions: Uncertainties that complicate communication

FF360 Column  originally posted by FireRescue Magazine at on March 18, 2011.

By Billy Schmidt

Photo by Tim Olk

Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult.
–Carl von Clausewitz

Prussian military thinker Carl von Clausewitz, dead for almost two centuries, continues to be one of the most important strategic theorists of our time. His thoughts on how humans develop strategies are studied by military education institutions, business schools and other organizations concerned with human competition and conflict. Clausewitz used the term “frictions” to describe the uncertainties or the mechanisms that complicated warfare. Modern military officers most often refer to his concept of a general friction as the “fog and friction” of war.

Frictions are the constant stream of obstacles thrown in the path of progress. They can cause any number of unpredictable effects in any number of situations. Each friction, or challenge, becomes a diversion from the planned objective. In this FF-360 column, I’ll analyze communication frictions and how they hamper emergency operations—and how to prevent them and improve performance.

Read the rest of this column here.

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