What is the idea of negentropy that helps make life smoother?


”Entropy” was introduced in thermodynamics as a measure of irreversibility under adiabatic conditions, and it is explained that internal changes in a system with no heat input or output always occur in the direction of increasing entropy (the law of increasing entropy). More recently, there has been a movement to apply the law of increasing entropy to organizations and life, and entropy is sometimes brought up in explanations such as “organizations become more cluttered over time. states that we can improve the state of clutter in organizations and in life by considering “negentropy,” a concept that corresponds to entropy.

A concept from physics called negentropy could help your life run smoother

Life is a series of different decisions, and we repeatedly make choices in our daily lives, such as “whether or not to pick up the socks I took off,” “whether or not to tend the garden,” or “whether or not to fix the broken faucet. Although the energy required to deal with each of these problems is small, if all the problems are left unaddressed, a chaotic situation is created: “the socks I took off are scattered, the garden is in disarray, and the faucet is broken. Fixing all these problems requires considerable energy and reduces the quality of life.
Alison Carr-Chellman, who studies social systems, thought that the concept of negentropy, which corresponds to entropy, could be used to deal with the increasing entropy in our lives. Negentropy is a term that refers to entropy being kept low and can also be used as a physical quantity that decreases entropy. For example, since life is open to the environment, it keeps entropy low in the body by expelling entropy into the environment through respiration and metabolism, and this effect is called negentropy.

Alison Carr-Chellman noted that energy can be defined as the ability to do work in both physics and social systems, and argued that energy loss is seen in many schools, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and local communities. For example, holding a “meeting to plan the next meeting” or a “meeting about something that could have been done by sending an e-mail” not only results in energy loss for those involved, but also ultimately leads to frustrated employees leaving the workforce, among other things.
So, with the idea of negentropy in mind to limit the increase in entropy, Alison Carr-Chellman advocates building a system that limits or reverses energy loss. Improving the situation by properly picking up socks that have been taken off and eliminating wasteful meetings will help avoid future energy loss, she said.


In fact, Alison Carr-Chellman and her colleagues developed the following “Five Steps to Successful Negentropy”.

◆1: Find places where entropy increases.

First, identify places in our daily lives and social systems where energy loss is occurring. He says, “Poorly organized kitchens that make it hard to find things,” or “Inadequate systems for new employees that cause confusion,” are areas where energy loss can occur.

◆2: Identify losses that need to be addressed

Next, identify the most worrisome or troublesome energy loss areas you have found.

◆3: Develop a plan

Once you have identified the highest priority issues to address, plan how you will reduce or reverse the energy loss. Depending on the problem, the solution may be as simple as “picking up your socks” or as relatively major as “changing the way you conduct meetings.

◆4: Keep an eye on the problem even after it has been addressed.

Even after putting problem-solving ideas into action, they should continue to keep an eye on the loss of energy and consider whether the measures worked, how much effort was expended, and whether there are new measures that can achieve negentropy in the future.

◆5: Go beyond mere repair and maintenance


In working to reduce energy loss, we may face the reality that “no matter how much we reduce the loss, the underlying system inevitably has problems and cannot work smoothly. To apply the idea of negentropy to social systems, he says, it is important to look at the big picture of things, not just small process improvements, and embark on measures to address energy loss.


Alison Carr-Chellman says, “Looking at things through the lens of negentropy does not help you improve a bad relationship or love a job you hate. These are complex issues. But once you begin to notice where energy is being lost in your life, it becomes easier to prioritize and act to improve the social systems around you.”