Tag Archives: Entropy

Concept Entropy

I’ve witnessed the entropy of many a fine concept in my time.

For those of you who have forgotten your schoolboy physics a quick reminder on what entropy is – and there are a lot of fine definitions, but I want to focus on a simple illustration. Entropy is what happen to your kettle after you have turned it off – it cools down until it is at room temperature. All of the heat dissipates until the temperature of the kettle is no different to everything else around it – well almost.

Jimmy and Granddad Explore the Lake DistrictWithin the IT arena we come up with all sorts of good ideas, but I’ve seen many of these ideas go through the same entropy cycle.

  • The cycle starts with an idea.
  • The idea warms up things around it as people subscribe to the idea and see it’s relevance.
  • The idea gets developed into a concept and a way of thinking beyond the first idea.
  • Thought leaders start to understand how the concept could be applied within their context – whether that’s a business, an organisation, or from a personal viewpoint. These thought leaders make the best use of the concept and it makes a real difference to their context.

At this point the system is still being heated up – the concept is still cooking, but entropy is about to kick in.

  • The concept starts to enter the mainstream.
  • Consultants start to see the concept as a way of generating more work by helping organisations to apply the concept to their environment.
  • Product companies see a whole new revenue stream from delivering products targeted at delivering the concept.
  • Because it is something tangible the products become synonymous with the concept in the minds of those that use the product.
  • The products enter the mainstream and become the concept and consulting review from the concept starts to decline.
  • At this point the consultants start to look for the next concept to jump onto leaving the old concept to the product providers.
  • The concept entropy is complete.

SOA is the last years concept, Cloud is this years. SOA has just finished the cycle, Cloud is on it’s way through the products phase.

I said at the beginning that a kettle cools down until it is just like everything else around it – well almost – and it’s that well almost that is important. The extra heat that the concept has generated doesn’t die – it’s just been dissipated throughout the other systems. The products that get delivered to enable a concept still live on making a difference to the way that organisations work. The products aren’t delivering the concept, but the residue of the concept that lives in the products is making a difference to systems around them.