I’d like you to imagine a newly built brick wall. The best the wall is ever going to be is when it is first built. It stands to reason that over time, given no care on ongoing commitment to its maintenance along the way, the wall will deteriorate. One day it may even collapse. The same principle applies to organisations. Left to its own devices without effective leadership, organisations are nothing more than a group of people, a mob.
If you are familiar with Peter Drucker, you’ll know he had a massive influence on the principles of modern business and passionately believed in a people-centred approach to management, the need for constant innovation and effective leadership for business. Drucker famously quoted “Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.” Any system left unattended will move towards a state of entropy. It is the natural tendency of things to lose order. Left to their own devices, things will always become less structured. Buildings deteriorate. Weeds overtake gardens. Cars begin to rust. People grow older. The inevitable natural trend is that things become less organised.
How to fight entropy and get better, not worse
Leaders today need to be acutely aware of this tendency. It is not enough to step into a leadership role within a well-functioning business and simply sit back and let it operate at it’s status quo. Entropy can occur in every aspect of a business. Employees may forget training, become disengaged, cut corners and lose enthusiasm. Equipment may break down, become inefficient, or be subject to improper use. Products may become outdated or be in less demand. Entropy in organisations can also happen when employees learn to do only what is expected of them and no more, when they learn that simply showing up, is enough. This kind of organisational structure results in employees feeling disconnected, disengaged and unquestioning because they depend upon the structure of the system to justify their actions. It’s a fast track to a business that will slowly implode. An organisation that lacks innovation, lacks being connected to the demands of their market, and consists of people operating at less than half their full potential is destined to deteriorate.
Businesses today need to stay relevant. They need to be quick to respond to changes in their market, and they need to consist of people connected to the higher purpose of the organisation. Connectedness is the key to avoiding entropy. A connectedness to one another, to your customers, to the world in which you operate.
Leaders who want to keep employees engaged and connected to shared visions and goals need to involve staff in decision making, encourage accountability and foster a culture of creativity and innovation. Leaders need to constantly share the ‘bigger picture’ with employees and seek ways to illustrate the deeper meaning the business has in society.
The people within the organisation need to be constantly developed, constantly reminded of their higher purpose and constantly engaged to stay connected to the goals and aspirations of the organisation they work for.
To prevent entropy within their market, leaders of organisations need to ensure their business is an organic system open to the continuous exchange of resources and information within the environment in which they are operating. This exchange helps ensure that organizations and employees stay creative and relevant.
Could you and your leadership team do with one of my tailored workshops? I’d love to share my experience and fool-proof leadership techniques with you. Don’t hesitate. Get in touch today.