What is Cultural Entropy

Cultural entropy is the level of dysfunction in an organization that is created as a result of fear-driven energy. Fear-based actions arise from both conscious and subconscious beliefs that a community or a group of people harbour about themselves. Almost everybody has some level of entropy. The trick, however, lies in how well one is able to pin it down before it becomes counterproductive.

Unfortunately, most leaders and managers do not often know how to handle cultural entropy in their organization. This undermines efficiency, employee engagement, and commitment levels. And as cultural entropy increases, the level of cohesion and trust in the business diminishes. It is because of this, that transformation needs to stem from above since the primary source of negative energy in any organization is rooted in the leadership.

Conversely, when leaders and managers engage using considerate behaviors, they cultivate an atmosphere of open discourse where employees are encouraged to be responsible and accountable for their work. Everyone in the organization gains a sense of commitment to anchor their efforts towards a common direction. This way, cultural entropy shrinks while employee engagement flourishes.

Culture Entropy is Comprised of Three Factors

Arrow with an anchor-minFactors That Slow down Organizations and Prevent Rapid Decision-making

Organizations with cultural entropy are often characterized by inflexible and tight procedures. Such companies put in place stringent controls and show a reluctance to change or adapt. Besides, decisions are made at a snail’s pace and a strict command structure is present at all times. Employees do not have the power to make decisions and individual performance is valued by the tasks performed or the amount of time spent at work. Regulations are put in place for every job and little to no creativity is encouraged. Such rigid values cultivate a culture characterized by vices such as bureaucracy, misunderstandings, fire-fighting, stiffness, and hierarchy.

Factors That Cause Friction

Organizational friction at its core is as a result of misalignment of goals and expectations arising from fear-driven energy. When the lowly members of any organization are allied with goals, they may gain uncontrolled access to independent reign, which can lead to internal competition, blame, manipulation, rivalry, and intimidation. Additionally, gaps at the management level are also a common source of friction in organizations. Typically, friction doesn’t appear overnight, rather, it appears as a result of some form of fear. In such a case, the leadership has to ensure that all parties involved work in unison while at the same time incapacitating cultural entropy before it reaches irreversible levels.

Control Domino-minFactors That Prevent Employees from Working Effectively

Control, micro-management, short-term focus, and risk aversion are some of the factors that contribute to perpetual fear in an organization. These types of obstacles are the main reasons cited for employee unproductivity and failure to realize set goals. An effective employee is a blend of a good skill set and an effective work environment. To get maximum output from employees, it’s important that they’re provided with the tools so they can thrive. The first thing a forerunner should do is to single out any existing hurdles that could be preventing employees from achieving maximum productivity. Besides, a hands-on attitude is always recommended in such a case as it can offer more long-lasting solutions.

A person without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Marcus Garvey

How Entropy in Human Systems Work

As a general rule, the amount of energy that gets out a system is equal to the volume of energy that goes into the system minus the volume used to run it. This principle holds true for human energy in an organization. When the level of dysfunction increases as a result of factors such as internal competition, control, blame or bureaucracy, the amount of energy employees have to spend increases.This extra energy is called cultural entropy. It is produced as a result of dynamics that are adverse to the business.

Fear-minFear-based actions and behaviors of leaders

Uncertainty and confusion about the future can lead to feelings of anxiety among leaders in an organization. According to professionals, there is no such thing as healthy fear. Fear robs people of their potential. Indeed, it is the leading barrier to organizational performance. It inhibits innovation by suppressing failures and destroying new ideas. In the current world that we live in, it’s so easy for a leader to get driven by fear. This is the main reason why bad leaders need to be replaced with the ones that encourage innovation so as to overcome cultural entropy before it spreads to the entire organization.

Common behaviors

Typical behaviors are qualities that predict a lack of professional fulfillment. They cultivate boredom and signal the absence of enthusiasm to realize a company’s vision. The behavior of an ordinary leader is inexplicable, exasperating and sad at the same time. Leaders need to be the most intelligent people in any organization. But common behaviors could very well be making them look and act like complete idiots. An employee may easily associate a leader with low intelligence if they noticed a culture of dormancy in the organization. More often than not, the prime culprit behind the typical behavior is fear — fear of going out of the norm and trying new and exciting ways to spice up the work environment.


Over controlling leaders lead by declaration. They craft rules and set standards in isolation, often forcing their will on the employees and the entire organization. This creates an environment of fear in the workplace. Control restricts initiative, hinders potential, and limits talent. Bossy leaders end up creating bottlenecks rather than concentrating on overall output. They nurture a fearful atmosphere and often come across as insensitive or arrogant. When your company signals unmotivated employees, frequent wars, and high levels of strain, you are cultivating what control has to offer — not ideal for a workplace, is it?

Internal competition

Most people tend to think that competition brings out the best in people. Quite to the contrary — competition is the underwire that inhibits trust and collaboration. How can we trust one another in a man-eat-man culture? How can we collaborate in an environment where leaders pit us against each other? The workplace is the worst place to foster competition. Instead of trust, cultural entropy prevails. Instead of sharing, information hoarding triumphs. This kind of attitude complicates overall development and undermines job satisfaction. But despite efforts to balance this oddity, competition is still an institutionalized concept in most companies. Some firms go to the extent of promoting and firing team members to keep the cream at the top and eliminate underperformers. Such practices push individuals to focus on the wrong things rather than laboring selflessly towards a common goal.


In the current business world, individuals are living in a demanding environment with exceedingly extra pressure to perform. On the other hand, managers expect their employees to be increasingly productive and realistic. But instead of facing the day with excitement, most leaders want to crawl under the covers for the dread of what awaits them in the office: blame game and non-accountability. Often the underlying culprit is something most people won’t embrace: fear. A business that has perfected the art of blame game is one where fear overrides anything productive. Surprisingly, this fear-driven energy originates from the leaders.

As employee engagement decreases, so do employee involvement. At this point, they are just punching bags – far from the faithful ambassadors you expect them to be. When your company breeds fear, it will find its way into every level of the organization. Soon, employees will start quitting, opting to work in organizations that see them as an asset rather than a liability.

Luckily, the reverse holds true. An engaged workforce is much more likely to be motivated and enthusiastic about realizing goals. High employee engagement can also be tied to low turnover, increased morale and more- all of which have a positive impact on revenue and profit creation. If you had to think of a list of success prerequisites, the majority would probably have to do with how the company motivates its employees. Here are the seven levels of motivation according to Barrett Values Centre.

It’s not enough to have a hacker culture anymore. You have to have a design culture, too.

Robert Scoble

7 Levels of Human Motivation

The distinctive aspect of the seven levels of human motivation is its evolutionary nature. This journey covers both the internal and external levels of motivation and the gradual growth of a sense of identity regarding who we are and what we care about.

Survival 1-minSurvival

This level primarily focuses on things to do with physical survival. It comprises values such as health, wealth, safety, self-discipline, and monetary stability. The hypothetically restrictive facets at this level are spawned by fears related to survival including control, caution, and greed.

Relationship 2-minRelationship

This is a level whose focus lies squarely on the type of relationships we create in our lives. It comprises values such as family, friendship, respect, communication, and conflict resolution. The hypothetically restrictive facets at this level are formed as a result of fears related to a loss of regard including competition and prejudice.

Self Esteem 3-minSelf-Esteem

This level emphasises on the necessity of recognition at a personal level. It comprises values such as recompense, determination, growth and personal success. Its limiting aspects are fears that come as a result of having a low self-esteem and being out of control.

transform 4-minTransformation

This is a level that addresses personal growth and revolution. It is made up of values such as accountability, awareness, and independence. Characteristically, people often tend to work towards overcoming their limiting aspects at this level. It is the level where balance is sought after so that one can attain full recognition of themselves.

Creativity 5-minInternal Cohesion

Internal cohesion is known to help people become more active, clearer, innovative, and variation resilient. It gives them the time to pause and reflect on decisions. At all times, people choose to think in terms of achieving a goal rather than carrying out a job responsibility. This level is made up of values such as originality, merit, and morality.

meditation 6-minMaking a Difference

Workplace databases can help develop a variety of skills, but there are some qualities that cannot be earned by learning about values or how to actualise them. Individuals operating at this level have a sense of active involvement in the outside world. They are driven by the issues around them to create an impact on the local environment and affect change.


This level concentrates on service to other people. Individuals at this level resonate with the environment and are willing to infuse their wisdom, commitment, and passion to all levels of the human perspective. They are apprehensive about matters around human rights, justice, and future cohesion.

How Leaders Can Help Overcome Cultural Entropy

Operate with authenticity

Authentic leadership is an approach that emphasizes honesty, sincerity, and integrity. Generally speaking, authentic leaders are confident people with value-based concepts backed by an enthusiasm to promote openness. By creating an atmosphere of trust and lobbying for real support from team members, an authentic leader is able to improve overall employee engagement and overcome cultural entropy.


Many sentiments have since been speckled on how authentic leadership could be created. Some believe that the whole organization can operate authentically like a single person through responsible behaviors and accountability. Others believe that it is more of how leaders behave both inside and outside of the company. Regardless of common belief, authenticity is an element that should not be undermined for its long-term focus and outstanding mission-driven results in an organization.

Integrity-minLive with integrity

Integrity is consistently applauded as one of the most important character traits of a virtuous leader. After all, if you can’t count on a leader to conduct themselves with high ethical standards, how can you trust them? Without integrity, no tangible success is feasible. Without integrity, there can be no strong foundation of leadership.


Integrity means living up to your word, delivering on promises and maintaining truthfulness — regardless of the outcome. It’s not something you demonstrate at work then shelf it once you are out. Leaders with integrity don’t live double lives; their morals, ethics, and overall character justify their positions. Any business that is founded on truth is bound to succeed since its employees develop trust in their leaders and thus are not afraid of facing the future.

Responsibility-minEncourage employees to be responsible and accountable

Employee responsibility and accountability can help deliver benefits beyond mere imagination. There is nothing more appealing than an engaged, confident workforce willing to take responsibility for mistakes and offer solutions to avoid recapping the same blunders in future.


Creating a workplace environment in which employees are encouraged. Culpability is a continuous process of building a culture where employees and management are not intimidated by their mistakes. Business operations are more likely to progress with every fault that leads to a system modification. Cultural entropy, on the other hand, will be a thing of the past.

Entropy makes things fall, but life ingeniously rigs the game so that when they do they often fall into place.

John Tooby

Related Posts