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03 February 2011

Organizational Entropy

Entropy (thermodynamics) is the energy that is not available for any useful work. Entropy in software measures the degree to which it is unordered, degree to which it can't be maintained. Entropy in organization measures the degree to which the workforce is unfocused & unordered. Though the field of application is different, by the very definition we understand that entropy is not a thing to boast about. The system continue to go in favor of entropy unless it is taken out in the form of heat.

Entropy in organization implies that energy that is available and that will eventually be spent on matters that is not so useful to the organization either be it taking too much of tea for a prolonged period in cafe or putting up a strategy in a conference with tea (or beer). All these are efforts which won't necessarily be converted to results. The next question that may come you mind - "is entropy same as that of being unproductive?".

Being unproductive is the result of having an entropy at higher side. Productivity is a metric that is measured after the event has happened. You have to wait for a week, a month, a year or until you have next meeting. But entropy measures how much of energy you have and what portion of it will be spent on things that will have little to no impact.

I feel like measure on entropy, and trying to reduce it, is a proactive approach than doing with measuring productivity alone. You better remove entropy periodically. Keeping a check on entropy increases the awareness and anticipation which in turn increases the probability of producing productive work/results.

Either in software or organizations, the entropy has to be worked against.

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