Scary Old House


n: a process of degradation

or running down or a trend to disorder;

chaos; disorganization; randomness

What is entropy?

Entropy is a term borrowed from science that refers to the way things all around us (including teams) naturally deteriorate unless ongoing maintenance is performed.  Here’s how I depict this idea:


If we do nothing, teams, organizations and the relationships that comprise them will naturally deteriorate.  Healthy teams understand this “law” and work together to push the ball uphill toward the holistic results we all want.

Manifestations of Entropy

Organizational decline at the bottom of the slope has numerous manifestations.  One of the clearest signs of entropy is interpersonal conflict.  Conflict is extremely costly in an organization, both literally and figuratively.  It impacts all aspects of the team’s morale and results.  This FACT SHEET lists relevant statistics to the cost of conflict and poor organizational health.

Why it matters

If this principle of entropy is true, doing nothing will have disastrous results.  I recently interacted with a team that I had worked with for eight months.  “We should have been working on these things years ago,” they commented.  We neglect working on our health as a team to our own detriment.  Eventually, doing nothing catches up with us.  Nothing matters more than our happiness and harmony on the team.  All the rest follows from that.

How it works

Entropy works quietly and constantly in the background.  It is incredibly persistent, like the law of gravity.  If we are not intentionally moving the team toward increased health and away from conflict, entropy simply happens.  In my estimation, the world isn’t flat nor is it sloped toward health.  We have to constantly work to produce the healthy and enjoyable team we all want to experience.  Entropy likes not being identified so that it can cause its damage without being noticed.

How to prevent it

Preventing entropy is an ongoing process.  As we move toward life and health, we move away from the destructive effects of entropy.  As a team or organization, we prevent it through sustained, focused and intentional effort that is often intensified through the use of a qualified third-party consultant.  We use professionals to help us with legal, accounting, and other critical aspects of our well-being.  It’s the same with our overall team health.  I thoroughly enjoy being a Team Health Specialist that helps teams move more and more toward the kind of organizational culture we all aspire to.