Great Teams

Entropy: How Do We Measure This Systematic Un-Alignment And Failure In A Team?

08.12.20 09:10 AM By Mark Pym

Team’s that have systematic un-alignment tend to fail. Often at the heart of this is an un-alignment of the values at the team and organisational level.

The good news is that you can measure the miss match, in system terms of un-aligned values within the team or organisation.  We describe this as entropy and it can be financially costed. 

Entropy can be described as the limiting behaviours, negative values and internal frictions, relationship issues, systems problems and structural miss alignments within the team or organisation.  The leaders in measuring entropy are a wonderful organisation, based in the United States of America called the Barretts Value Centre .  Further information on using their tools to measure the team’s entropy can be obtained via this website.

We can describe the measurement of entropy as effectively seeking to look at the gaps between an individual’s values, the current values in the team or organisation and the future values.

When high levels of entropy are present in a team, this works against the achievement of the team’s mission, vision, strategy and goals.  By measuring entropy, we can also understand further any un-alignment with the team’s identity.

There is always a cost to high levels of entropy as effectively the team and organisation are not working optimally.

As entropy can be measured, we are able to work out the financial cost of this un-alignment. 

Teams are therefor able to measure the impact these presenting symptoms (un-aligned values) have on their team culture and the team’s identity.

Once the underlying causes of these symptoms are understood, a range of options can be introduced that will help to improve the team’s performance.

To measure the team’s cultural entropy, we start by measuring the values in the team.

Traditionally, intangibles such as culture and values have been difficult to measure and, therefore, have not been included as part of the Leader’s scorecard or the dashboard of any key performance indicators.

In 1997, an innovative set of assessments that map the values of individuals, teams and organisations was developed, by the Barretts Value Centre, called the Cultural Transformation Tools (CTT).

The CTT assessment is a detailed diagnostic report of an organisation’s or team’s culture and a roadmap for continuous improvement.

The Cultural Transformation Tools allow the team to measure the alignment of the personal values of the employees/team members with those of the current culture of the team, and those of the current culture with any future desired culture.

This CTT assessment provides you with a summary of the team’s entropy risk band assessment:

Entropy Risk Bands

  • 10% to 19% problems requiring attention and careful monitoring.
  • 20% to 29% significant problems requiring immediate attention.
  • 30% to 39% crisis situation requiring immediate change.
  • Above 40% impending risk of implosion, bankruptcy or failure

Team’s with high entropy scores tend to have fragmented identities.

Clearly the higher the levels of entropy the more you will see issues within the team relating to limiting behaviours, negative values and internal frictions, relationship issues, systems problems and structural miss alignments.

When you understand this and what the underlying values based causes are, you can determine what needs to be done, where the gaps are and how you can deliver initiatives that really will ‘connect’ with most team member’s personal values.

 Once you understand what values are working for and against the team, you can start to raise the awareness of the direct link between team cultural entropy and its financial cost to the team and the start of an effective road map to improve the team in this critical area.

Having helped identify and measure what values are working for the team and those that are miss-aligned you can then work to develop and implement initiatives that will meet the values of your team members thereby helping to improve your team entropy and employee/team member engagement.

As this can be measured you can determine the direct return on any investment for new initiatives. This will also directly provide a clear focus on the team’s Identity.  Nurtured and developed this pathway be help make good communities, great communities.