Lean: Entropy’s Enemy

Have you heard of entropy?

It’s a scientific idea that says if you leave things alone; they will deteriorate as compared to improve.

You’ve seen it. Walk into a vacant building and you will see elements of the building in deterioration. Metals rust. Cabinets sag. Dust accumulates.

Roofs develop leaks.

Put your arm in a cast and be amazed at how the muscle dissipates over the matter of weeks.

Trees rot. Mountains crumble. Environments deteriorate when left unattended.

Entropy affects organizations too. That’s why we talk about “lean”.

We can work hard to address “deterioration” in our midst. We can clean.

Organize it. Put in a new procedure for dealing with it to keep it from happening again. That’s “lean”-driving out wasteful motion, wasted time and wasted material.

But entropy dictates that “lean” is never done. It can become ideal, but it won’t stay there if we aren’t diligent with habits and practices designed to maintain it.

“Lean” is a mindset. Not a temporary program. What in your work environment needs our attention? Winners enjoy the challenge of counteracting entropy.