Simply defined, the second law of thermodynamics is when a system becomes more disordered, more chaotic, and more random over time. Eventually, everything affected by this law loses its initial reaction heat and eventually reaches a static state of equilibrium.
Also termed entropy, the second law of thermodynamics directly affects the motion of planets and stars, but the law of entropy also plays a key role in the lives of all people and the systems they have created since the dawn of time. Think old age, especially if you want to get depressed! Over a few decades, the body loses its vim and vigor, slowly but surely withering away. Therefore, entropy prevails. Indeed, it is a natural and unassailable law of God.
Nevertheless, people are notorious for trying to level up their futile entropy-fighting game with anti-aging creams, vitamins, exercise, and special diets—temporarily staving off the inevitable decline and final demise. Try to examine every aspect of your life. Take a look at your health, your physical body, your garage, your vehicle, and everything around you. If you take stock of these things in an honest and humble manner, you are already, most likely, showing signs of decline. It is simply an unavoidable and inescapable law of physics–one of God’s natural laws. Thus, your business and/or your organization are impacted by the same laws.
Entropy, though, is one especially time-tested law. Scientists and theologians alike have found no solid evidence to contradict it—and they never will.
The only way to fight this law, then, is to make a concentrated movement towards greater order and less chaos/disorder within a given system. Think applied effort, i.e., work. Think with a laser-like Lean focus—at all echelons and departments within an organization.
On an everyday level, people can find a successful way—if applied–to go into battle against this law in all facets of their organizations–from the gemba to the boardroom. The theory and application of Lean are the most effective ways to overcome corporate disorder and disorganization. Lean thinking and continuous improvement require consistent effort, and sometimes even a complete overhaul of company culture to be successful. Certainly, the positive effects of going Lean do not happen overnight.
If the correct levers are pulled, you can decrease waste, as well as improve overall efficiency and profitability. Lean is not a mere band-aid for ailing organizations, or some ivory tower philosophy with no viable application in the real world. Lean is a business system that, if applied constructively, works—only if you do.
Still, the law of entropy is alive and well.
That is why organizations that work will be doing Lean and running Kaizen events until its stakeholders are dead or completely give up. Lean is never done because the world, our businesses, our organizations, and our lives are constantly ruled by a little-understood law that has an absolutely huge impact on us. People, places, and things are constantly in decline—constantly moving from an organized/concentrated state to a diffused, disorganized state.
In addition to entropy, your organizations are impacted by constant change which includes, but is not limited to, new technology, new customer demands, new competition, and new people, e.g., customers, vendors, and employees. Those factors, as well, will dictate how you engage in Lean thinking and Lean processing–or you will die or be killed off by better alternatives for your customers.
Entropy is simply not something that can be negotiated and you cannot turn a blind eye away from its all-encompassing impact.
Finally, most of us are pathological slobs. We need help keeping our stuff together. It is easy to see how our work and our lives begin to negatively reflect our personal flaws, as well as our lack of organization and self-discipline. Again, without the tools and processes to remove waste, we are doomed.
Without effort to keep things in order, they will tend to evolve towards disorder. The good news is that you can fight back with the tools of Lean. The bad news is that you will be doing so until the very end. So, get on with it!
Do not bother going with the flow. Fighting entropy with a focused Lean approach is the only effective path towards lasting culture change and continuous improvement within an organization.
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