Fighting Entropy

Entropy is a word that describes what happens to systems or processes. A simple description of entropy says that the natural flow of things is from organization to disorganization.

In other words, you leave a system alone it will begin to break down. It’s natural.

Preventive maintenance fights entropy. If you have a car and never take care of it, it will break. Same with our saw systems or nailing machines.

Training and retraining fights entropy. While we would like to think that once we know it, we will do it forever, it’s a fact that without reminders things will break down.

Intention fights entropy. I used to fly frequently with my partner Al Holland in a small plane. He was the pilot.

He had a notebook with the takeoff procedure typed out. Every time that we would get ready to take off, he would pull out that notebook and go through the steps.

After I had been flying with him awhile, I realized that he knew the procedure by heart. But, here’s what I know. He read it every time. And, we had a safe liftoff every time.

In my history, I have been involved in projects that yielded great results – improved throughput, improved quality, improved safety, excellent rapport – you get the point. Then, several years later, we would come back to find the same problem all over again.

I would find myself grumbling, “We fixed this once, already. I can’t believe we have to do it again.”

Well, entropy says that such occurrences are natural. Especially when you don’t have a program where you intend to fight it.

One of the ways to improve performance in our operations is to take a look at the things we do every day as habit and make sure our habits aren’t shortcuts which are leading us to poorer performance.