I already discussed entropy in my previous posts. I’m dedicating this post to how we can turn entropy into a competitive advantage. There are four ways we can leverage the understanding of entropy to our advantage.
1) Don’t let a company deteriorate or get into equilibria. The essence of entropy is that with no invested effort any system (including an organization) will decline. On the other hand, if we put too much effort to make sure an organization is in balance, we will create another type of problem. A problem that characterizes many companies before they file chapter eleven.
Keeping an organization in healthy cycles between more entropy and more balance is important. Those cycles create enough energy to move the business forward and will prevent the system from declining and becoming malfunction.
You might see it contradicted to move deliberately any group of people from balance to a more chaotic state. Companies need this state for renovation and the creation of new capabilities crucial for their success. If you won’t interfere with a healthy group, those cycles will take place naturally.
2) Always create new capabilities. One way to ensure that entropy will not impact a group of people is to add continuously new group capabilities. The creation of new capabilities requires a lot of effort. When a group spends a lot of effort, it postpones entropy. We can’t prevent entropy, but a constancy investment of energy will postpone any group from deteriorating.
Not all attempts to create new successful capabilities succeed. Some fail. We all know that we can learn from failure. Now we also know that failure also helps us fight entropy.
3) Entropy is all around us, and it’s not coming symmetrically. Entropy is responsible for a lot of asymmetry around us. When people see something symmetric, they have a natural attraction for it. We appreciate what is rare, and we want it to be ours.
Make sure that ANY solution or product that you release is symmetric. People appreciate and seek symmetry. Applying symmetry increases the odds that people will like and buy it. Applying symmetry is an activity with a positive impact on reducing internal entropy.
4) Always keep in mind the relationship between entropy and the effort needed to postpone it. My advice is to always duplicate your estimation of resources needed to create and support any project. Think about the entropy a project is addressing, the energy needed to reduce entropy is always more than we think. This rule especially applies to the support of any new projects or products.
During a support period, we deal with two types of entropy. We need to spend energy on the entropy we stared the project to reduce. The project itself required energy so it won’t deteriorate. Many people neglect this and wake up to outdated projects that consume more effort than those projects allegedly saved. You can see this behavior in any big implementation of ERP systems.