Thursday, November 13, 2008

Entropy: Entropy Reduction In Depth Part 2

This post is Part 2 of Entropy Reduction in Depth. Part 1 is here. And the Entropy category link is here. In these posts, and other posts on Entropy in Human Achievement, I am developing the concept that the removal of Entropy (disorder, dissipation of energy) is a key component in all human achievement, and has been articulated, in countless ways, by all the great authors and speakers on human achievement.

Use existing processes until measures dictate otherwise
In my previous post, I mentioned the opposite principle: “Abandon processes if measurements dictate”. Though it seems I am suggesting the opposite now, these two processes are “twin processes”, and both produce entropy reduction: that key quality that eliminates the extraneous impediments to “useful work” and channels energy into productive paths. You must not abandon a process that is working without good reason. And that reason should be measurable. If a process has not been in place for long, one should not expect the measurement of success to be large, however, if the success is nonzero, and at all measurable, and if, from that measure, you can deem that process to be taking you in a nonrandom direction, consider keeping the process going. If you have not lost a pound in 4 years, and you change your eating and exercise habits, and then, after 30 days you have lost 1 pound, that may seem like a small victory. But, it is in fact a non-random result which is matching your goal and your plan. You should not change that process, although there is reason to attempt “Spiral Development” of that process

Develop your processes iteratively; Spiral Development
When I was involved in a creative field, I never quite knew when a piece was “done”. This is because creativity is oftentimes an iterative process. From the germ of an idea, a first draft is made, or a few lines are written. These initial outputs act as the beginning of a feedback loop into the artist’s brain, which then produces related and refined outputs which enrich and expand the initial germ of an idea. Ultimately, the artistic work is born, not artificially, but organically, as a spiral path toward a finished project.

Similarly, we can reduce the entropy, or disorder of our success processes by going deeper into the implications of any plans that seem to have promise. We can proceed along the “lines of least resistance”, i.e. digging deeper into those elements that seem most promising, exciting, or effective at a given (current) stage. Which elements of your plan are working? Which elements could be doubled? Tripled? Which elements would expand with a little extra equipment? With the help of a consultant? Maybe a plan is working, but needs better and more exhaustive metrics so othe shape of the whole can be perceived with more detail; so the overall direction can become clearer.

Developing spirally means reflecting on the current state of a good plan to make it better, rather than shifting to a new plan.

Bach did not seem to get tired of composing fugues, and, as a matter of fact, was still writing one as he lay on his deathbed. Spiral development becomes ever more fascinating as the output becomes more successful. Another example might be This company has spirally developed its core competencies of inventory, delivery, search, convenience, etc from its beginnings as a bookseller to a huge, multi-line retailer. And then they spirally developed their back-office processes into still more businesses. Again, all grown organically. Spirally.

More entropy reduction techniques in Part 3


Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Manny said...

Susan -
Thank-you for your interest and your comment!! I hope you are enjoying the blog.