Beware the force of entropy

In to 1865, Rudolf Clausius coined the term "entropy" and stated that the entropy of the universe tends to a maximum. This idea is now known as the second law of thermodynamics and a measure of the "disorder" of the physical system.

Consider the behaviour of gas in a closed box. If you start with all the gas molecules in a corner of the box, the gas molecules will fill the box, increasing the entropy (tending to ‘chaos’ or disorder.)

Interestingly it never goes the other way: if the gas molecules fill the box, we will never see them spontaneously collect into one corner. (This one-way behaviour of matter is called the "arrow of time and is related to notion of ‘the arrow of time’ which I wrote about here.)

This is not just a phenomenon and it is not just a theory – this is one of the LAWS of the universe. (If you are interested in that sort of thing, you will know that this Law is not reconcilable with the idea of the spontaneous creation of the universe.)

Since the Second Law of Thermodynamics (systems tend towards chaos) is a universal law, then it also applies to all systems – including the system of your company.

As organisations grow (older and bigger) the natural law is that it will tend to towards disorder (entropy).

General observation of organisations and their natural lifecycles would tend to support that.

Of course your survival and your prosperity therefore depends on how well you can delay (fight) that natural tendency.

The tools to achieve this are:

  • Focus
  • Commitment
  • Discipline
  • Systems

Passion, energy, motivation et al may be the common prescription by ‘success gurus’, but the reality seems to be more mundane than that. If you searched online for ‘why following your passion is bad advice’, and you will find several arguments for and against.

In fact, MOTIVATION refers to internal (emotive) states whereas PASSION AND ENERGY reflect actions (behaviours). Emotions and feelings wax and wane, whereas action is something that can happen independently from emotions. Any entrepreneur will be able to relate stories of how they rocked up for work despite feeling miserable.

The only way to postpone entropy is to work at it. NO matter how you feel.