UNIT 2: ENERGY & INFORMATION SYSTEMS

ENERGY AND INFORMATION RULE

At this very moment, your brain is converting energy (the light your eyes process as you read this) into information (the words that form in your mind). Your ability to read depends on this exchange. In fact, you can thank the relationship between energy and information for much more than that. If you look around, you’ll see that energy and information systems are everywhere. They are responsible for everything that has ever happened, everything that is happening now, and everything that ever will happen.

Seems like a grandiose claim, right? Well, let me show you.

Let’s start with some definitions:

Energy is the capacity or power to do work.[1]

Information is the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence.[2]

Now we can begin to set up a relationship between them:

When “energy” enters a system, “information” results.

So far so good. But the formula is still incomplete. In order for the relationship between energy and information to remain constant, it needs to be regulated; it needs rules.

Rules are a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity.

Tweaking our initial formulation to account for rules, we end up with this description of a how an energy and information system works:

Energy is present, rules are followed, information results.

Sounds vague, I know. So here’s a concrete example. You throw a ball straight up into the air. It reaches a peak height. Then, it falls back down to your hand.

The energy in this scenario is the amount of oomph you put into the ball to toss it up in the air. The rules are the laws of gravity. The information at play is the weight of the ball and air friction.

If any pieces of the equation change, the end result will be different. Exert more energy in throwing the ball, for example, and the ball will go higher. If gravity were heavier, the ball would go lower. If the ball weighed less, it would go higher. If the air resistance were greater, the ball would go lower.

It is this combined system (energy, rules, and information) that determines how “throwing a ball in the air” works both as a general concept and as a specific action.

Isaac Newton helped shed light on how energy and information systems work as part of his study of the laws of motion, and Einstein used the concepts of energy and information systems to help him figure out the Theory of Relativity. In fact, his most famous formula describes an energy and information system: e=mc^2. I’m clearly not the first to ponder this stuff. But I may be the first to apply it to business.

I am 100% certain that to truly understand how your business works, you need to view it as an energy and information system.

Machines are energy and information systems. And just as complex machines are made up of multiple simple machines, so, too, are they comprised of multiple energy and information systems. It’s the same with businesses.

A business is an energy and information system that contains smaller systems within it. It follows that if your production process is the engine of your business, it is also the energy and information system at its core.

In this section, you learned that:

• Energy and information systems are everywhere.
• In an energy and information system, energy is present, rules are followed, information results. If any pieces of the equation change, the end result will be different.
• Businesses are energy and information systems.
• The Production Process is an energy and information system within the energy and information system that is your business.

In the next section you will learn why a static image isn’t sufficient for understanding what’s happening with your business.

Continue to Visualizing Energy And Information Systems >

[1] “Energy.” Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. Accessed October 11, 2014. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/energy

[2] “Information.” Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed October 11, 2014. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/information.