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Practice 7: Work to Maintain Openness to the System to Avoid Entropy

19 January, 2016 - 10:47

When an individual or group within the system engages with another individual or group within the system that is “not normal”; new information is created within that system. External to the system, when an individual or group engages with individuals, groups, or other organizations that are not normal, new information is created between the systems. This new information can lead to energy and matter transfer that counteracts systemic entropy.

Intrasystemic openness occurs when two departments agree to collaborate on a project that contains mutual benefits to each. “Open door” policies are clearly a step in the right direction. Even a simple act of going to lunch with someone you have never dined with before can reduce system entropy. Extrasystemic openness occurs when new employees are hired, when external consultants are engaged, and when individuals attend trade association meetings or external training sessions. The human tendency to stick with the known and familiar and maintain routine must be challenged by the continual creation of new connections.

In sum, a systemic perspective is essential for making your organization change capable. Systems thinking is an infrastructure within which all change takes place. Figure 7.1 contains a graphic summarizing this fifth dimension of organizational capacity for change.

Figure 7.1 The Fifth Dimension of Organizational Capacity for Change: Systems Thinking