Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Meeting Procedure: How To Make Communication Effective

From The Australian Institute of Management 
(Now Institute of Managers and Leaders-Australia and New Zealand)
Ivers, David (1995) Meeting Procedure: How To Make Communication Effective in MANAGEMENT TODAY July 1995. Australian Institute of Management. North Sydney. 
(Republished the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service in their operational manual for volunteer Fire Fighters). (3 pages incl.reference list) 

A republished version of “Meeting Procedure: How To Make Communication Effective” can be downloaded here:

Description: This paper, published by the Australian Institute of Management, explores the age old question of how can meetings improve communication within organizations. With implications for leaders across the organization, it proposes that a formal meeting procedure is more business like, more time efficient and less likely to convey a confused message in the organizational communications process.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

When The Wave Breaks - (Computers in Education in 1985) Bill Newcomen and David Ivers

This paper was co-authored by Bill Newcomen and David Ivers. It was published in Australian Science Mag, Issue 2, 1985 by Darling Downs Institute Press, Toowoomba. The paper was futuristic in its thinking and orientation, exploring the way forward for Computers in Education, as the 21st Century approached. The paper provides a 'Blue Print' for Computers in Education both then (1985) and as Education transitioned to the 21st Century. It anticipated that ICT (Information and Communications Technology) would be regarded as a required skill set in the future. It also anticipates that Programming or Coding would be something for Education to consider in the future.

A PDF copy of the paper can be found at:

Copyright Notice
(Whilst Darling Downs Institute Press published the Paper, David Ivers, as one of the authors, has asserted his Moral Rights under the Australian Copyright Act and made a copy of the paper available on his Blog).

Sunday, July 09, 2017

A Leadership Minute 8 July 2017 By David Ivers

A brief reflection on Change and Leadership via Ivers, David (2014) Leadership: Beyond The Challenge.

For a PDF copy of this Leadership Minute go to:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Leadership: Beyond The Challenge By David Ivers

Leadership is something that many aspire to and something that people holding leadership positions, especially in schools, generally aspire to do well. Leadership is by its nature illusory. Over the years, many researchers have explored the challenge of leadership. This paper seeks to explore what lies beyond the leadership challenge and how professional standards from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership might assist school leaders seeking to go beyond the challenge
of leadership. To find out more click here. Alternatively, click here to vist the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership eCollection where you can access and download this paper.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Challenge Of Student Engagement: What Can We Learn From The WorldOf Walt Disney?

The Challenge Of Student Engagement: 
What Can We Learn From The World Of Walt Disney?

For schools, the greatest challenge of the twenty-first century is Student Engagement. Engagement, by its nature always brings the discussion back to Pedagogy. The notion of developing a model of praxis that encourages Student Engagement in the 21st Century, is increasingly necessary. Against this backdrop, this paper seeks to answer an intriguing question. When it comes to Student Engagement, what can we learn from the world of Walt Disney? The answer leads this paper to describe a praxis-based pedagogy, aptly named the "Practice Process Pedagogy (PPP)". 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Managing From The Edge, Working From The Centre: Organisations, Complexity And The Search For Meaning

Managing From The Edge, Working From The Centre:
Organisations, Complexity And The Search For Meaning.

Monograph Number 2, April 1998.
(Management Education Papers)

A Paper By:
David John Ivers DipT., BEd., GradDipEd(Rel.Ed)., MEdAdmin., MCCEAM., MACE., AFAIM

Original Paper:
Management Education Papers                                                      ISSN 1328-7362
Managing From The Edge, Working From The Centre:
Organisations, Complexity And The Search For Meaning.           ISBN 0 9500988 3 3

(C) Copyright 1998: David John Ivers

This Blog / PDF Version
(C) Copyright 2013: David John Ivers | @edu_ivers

Reproduction is permitted for study, research or professional development purposes. When used for such purposes, appropriate citation and due credit is to be given to the author. For all other uses please contact the author.

The notion that organisations are affected in some way by entropy (see Ivers. D.J. 1997. Managing The Entropic Organisation), gives rise to a most important question. What other implications does the 'new science' have for management? The science of Chaos and Complexity for example, has much to offer the world of management. Managers should be looking at the interconnectedness of events within their organisation, the degree of complexity with which things occur and how this connects in turn to the search for organisational meaning. How does the spacetime continuum impact upon the manager's day? Does it only suggest the need for people in management to be giving freely of themselves to the task at hand? Is this the point at which managers subconsciously, begin to bring 'nomos' or meaning out of complexity?

To start to appreciate the abstract forces at work upon the manager daily, to understand what "The Butterfly Effect" coud be for the organisation and how its energy could be harnessed and used creatively, is perhaps the hallmark of a manager in tune with the internal and external business environment, in tune with the self and with the world. By seeing the complexity within the day and within the organisation, the possibility of further life emerges for the organisation, meaning is found in what otherwise might be an abyss, in a rather transforming way.

Editorial Note: Where the term Complexity and the term Chaos are used with a capital letter throughout the paper, other than at the beginning of a sentence, then it should be taken by the reader as a proper noun. When used as a proper noun, the terms designate the name of an emerging field within science. Where the term is used with a lower case letter, the term is not being used as a proper noun and is therefore being used in a wider, more generic sense.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Managing The Entropic Organisation

    Managing The Entropic Organisation 

       MONOGRAPH NUMBER 1. 1997 


David John Ivers

A paper by: 

David Ivers.DipT., BEd., GradDipEd(Rel.Ed)., MEdAdmin., MCCEAM., MACE., AFAIM. 


This Management Education Paper is a published work 
which aims to present the findings of occasional 
independent research into issues that may affect or 
impinge upon good management, preferably in the 
Australian context. The papers are subjected to critical 
review by experienced administrators and people with 
technical expertise, prior to publication. In this sense, 
each title in the Management Education Papers series is 
refereed. It is hoped that through the occasional 
publication of monographs, the findings may be used by 
managers to improve their organisation and the working 
standards for those engaged by such organisations.

This paper was published in accordance with the 
Copyright Act 1968 (Commonwealth of Australia). A legal 
deposit of this paper has been made with the National 
Library of Australia and with the relevant State Libraries.
Management Education Papers ISSN 1328-7362 

Managing the Entropic Organisation ISBN 0 9587137 0 7 

Original Paper
©Copyright 1997 David John Ivers, De La Salle Brothers Marrickville NSW. 2204

This Blog / PDF / eBook Version

©Copyright 2013. David John Ivers | @edu_ivers

Copyright is held by the author. The views expressed in 
this paper are the views of the author based upon 
independent research and may not be those of the De La 
Salle Brothers, either as an organisation or individually. 
Every effort has been made to identify and reference all 
sources used in this paper. This paper may not be sold by 
any party, other than the author. Reproduction is 
permitted for study purposes only, in accordance with the 
relevant sections of the Copyright Act 1968 
(Commonwealth of Australia). Under such circumstances, 
this work is to be properly cited and due credit given to its 
author. Where reproduction is sought for purposes other 
than study, permission must be gained from the author. 
Contact can be made through: @edu_ivers 

If you found this paper useful, then you may like to check 
your library catalogue for other titles in the series. 

Post Production Note: The author is no longer a member 
of the De La Salle Brothers but was a member at the time 
of publication and graciously acknowledges their 
assistance at that time.


The author would like to thank and acknowledge the 
role that the following people played in the critical 
review of this paper. 

Mr. Ranald Cross 

Mr. Brad Elliott 

Mrs. Suzanne Gruchot 

Mr. Joseph Haddad 

Mr. Lenard John Ivers 

Mr. Stephen Manning 

Mr. John Murphy 

Mr. Mark Pauschmann 

Through their willingness to share their expertise and 
experience by critically reviewing this paper on a 
voluntary basis, they have made an invaluable 
contribution to existing knowledge, which is always 


On the surface, it may seem insignificant to many 
managers and administrators, but there has been a not 
so quiet revolution occurring in Science, specifically in the 
area of Physics. Currently it goes under several names 
including Cosmology or 'The New Physics'. 

Whatever label people attach to it, one thing is certain. 
The New Physics has implications for the Administration 
and good Management of organisations. Indeed, 
managers may in fact be ignoring these new 
developments at their own peril and that of their 
organisation. This paper focuses on the concept of 
'entropy' and applies it to organisations generally, and 
system theory specifically. Central to the paper is the 
notion that the energy that generates chaos or 'entropy' 
can be harnessed into a creative and life-giving force for 
any organisation through the use of effective leadership 
and communication techniques.


On the surface, it may seem insignificant to many managers 
and administrators, but there has been a not so quiet 
revolution occurring in Science, specifically the area of 
Physics. Currently it goes under several names including 
Cosmology or 'The New Physics'. Whatever label people 
attach to it, one thing is certain. The New Physics has 
implications for the administration and good management of 
organisations. Indeed, managers may in fact be ignoring 
these new developments at their own peril and that of their 


In truth, the revolution probably began with Albert Einstein 
and in particular his 'Theory of Relativity'. Work in this area 
has of late been taken up by a number of eminent scientists 
around the world including: Professor Stephen Hawking 
(Physicist-Cambridge University); Professor Roger Penrose 
(Mathematician & Physicist-Oxford University); Professor 
Paul Davies (Physicist & Natural Philosopher-University of 
Adelaide); Emeritus Professor Charles Birch (Biologist- 
University of Sydney). The basic thesis appears to be one of 
chaos and order. Is the universe chaotic or is there an order 
to it and if so, what is it? What a number of these scientists 
claim is that the Universe and thus the world, is chaotic, yet 
there maybe some order to the chaos or even within the 
chaos. The junction at which this becomes obvious is when 
the notion of Space, Matter and Time, is dealt with in a 
systematic manner by such able scholars. It is not the 
intention of this article to explore new scientific theories, nor 
to support one scholar over another. Rather, this article 
intends to explore, for the betterment of management in this 
country, the implications that such research has for 

Is the organisational world chaotic? Does the daily grind of 
work occur on a semi - ordered, semi - chaotic basis? Does 
the fact that managers often have on their desk, a pad which 
reads in big bold print "THINGS TO DO" or "PLAN YOUR 
DAY", suggest something of the chaotic world of 
management and organisations in general? Time 
management, in all likelihood, appears to be a headache for 
most managers. After all, organisations exist in the physical 
world and thus must be subject to the laws of the physical 
world and so in turn, the laws of Physics. Having had an 
interest in the New Physics for some time, this writer began 
to wonder whether or not the discoveries by Science, about 
Chaos and Order, are in fact replicated, not just in the vast 
array of paperwork that managers face each day, but perhaps 
in the day itself. On this question the written works of 
Professor Paul Davies was consulted, for what became a 
remarkable answer. 


"One measure of the remorseless rise of chaos uses a 
quantity called 'entropy,' which is defined to be, roughly 
speaking, the degree of disorder in a system. The second law 
(of thermodynamics) then states that in a closed system the 
total entropy can never decrease; at best it remains the 
same. Almost all natural changes tend to increase the 
entropy, and we see the second law at work all around us in 
nature."(1) From the vantage point of an interested observer, 
there would seem to be a number of implications to which this 
statement by Davies must give rise. If Science is so certain of 
this chaos in the physical and natural world, and if it can be 
seen within systems, then it must ipso facto be plausible, if 
not evident in systems theory as it is applied to organisations. 
It is no longer sufficient for managers to sit back and think 
that this is not applicable to them, or conversely, that this is 
merely the view of one scientist. In fact, Davies is merely 
asserting a law of science. By definition, a law in science is 
something proven, whilst a theory is something less tangible, 
it has merit but is yet to be proven. 

What are the Implications? 

If the law as stated by Davies is obvious in a closed system, 
yet is also obvious in nature, then it must be equally 
applicable to the natural system and thus one supposes to an 
open system. By virtue that it is a logically deduced and 
proven law of Physics, one must also assume that it is a 
feature of the rational system, as they are applied to 
organisations. In short, if a manager were to take any of the 
major system theories of organisations, one would have to be 
led, even on purely elementary grounds, to deduce that 
chaos is a very real part of that system. It is perhaps 
mischievous to simply discount it as something 'political' 
since it is a real feature (according to Science) of the physical 
world in which we live. The upshot of all of this is very simple. 
If the 'New Physics' is correct (and we really have no reason 
to say that it is not), then the notion of chaos, even if ordered, 
must start to question managers at a very fundamental level. 
Is there a need to redefine the modern manager, their work 
and their role within organisations? Are managers across the 
spectrum (junior, middle, senior) fundamentally the people 
who manage chaos for an organisation? Is the notion of 
restructuring, downsizing and the like, actually a first hand 
example of 'entropy' being increased within a system for 
some perceived gain? If such a gain is to reduce the 
disordered way in which things are done within an 
organisation, then downsizing may in fact worsen the 
situation if the organisation has already found its optimum 
level of 'entropy'! 

The notion of balance is crucial here. Environmental Science 
informs us that in nature keeping the right balance is 
important. Logic would dictate that if something is decreased, 
something else must increase. Consequently, deliberate 
intervention to reduce the level of disorder within any part of 
an organisation, must, by the very act of restructuring, lead to 
an overall increase of 'entropy' and thus ambiguity to the 
organisation as a whole. In particular, this would be most 
noticeable in an organisation in which 'entropy' was at an 
optimum level and ambiguity was in a healthy balance with 
other systems (hidden or otherwise) throughout the 
organisation. To envision the notion of 'entropy' graphically 
within an open system, one must first conceptualise two 
polarised points on a line, chaos and order. As a line is 
mathematically made up of a series of continuous points in 
both directions, any one of these points along the line can be 
the point of entropy. 

Diagram 1: Entropy as a degree of measure of chaos & order

Infinite Order <----------------------------------------> Infinite Chaos

Thus, the natural balance occurs at some degree of 'entropy' 
along the line. As the graphic demonstrates, 'entropy' can tend 
towards chaos or order within an open system. Consequently, 
to begin restructuring an organisation that is already well ordered, 
so as to remove the remaining level of chaos is perhaps futile, 
as some chaos must always exist. Whilst infinite (perfect) 
order and chaos is represented, pragmatically, it is impossible 
to achieve. Thus any restructuring will add a level of chaos to 
the system, moving the point of balance toward chaos, not 
order, and thus moving the degree of 'entropy' further along 
the line toward infinite chaos. Even if the desired level of 
order is achieved in one part of the organisation, it must 
increase inversely 'entropy' as a measure of chaos at some 
point on the line. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the ledger 
has to balance! Mindful that 'entropy' can increase toward 
chaos or decrease toward order in an open system
(it can never decrease in a closed system), there remain 
some essential questions that must be asked. Are the gains 
to be made via restructuring, financial or otherwise, real, or is 
the cost of increasing 'entropy' to the system an expense, a
hidden expense that has never really been factored in? How 
should we cost the increasing or decreasing of 'entropy' in the 
system? Does the increase of 'entropy' to a system via 
restructuring, increase burn out rates, absentee rates, error 
rates, sick leave rates, and does it in turn decrease morale 
within the organisation? If the answer to any of these questions 
is maybe or yes, then perhaps we are achieving things within 
our organisations at an extremely high price. There may in fact 
be a better approach to the problem! 

What might the alternative be? 

In one sense, Paul Davies has partly answered this question. 
"In a closed system the total entropy can never decrease; at 
best it remains the same. Almost all natural changes tend to 
increase the entropy, and we see the second law at work all 
around us in nature."(2) In other words, perhaps the most 
fundamental task that managers have, is to maintain the 
'entropy' of a system at an optimum level, given that by its 
nature it must always exist. Likewise, it would therefore follow 
that where 'entropy' within an organisation is high (moving close 
toward infinite chaos), the function of the manager is to reduce 
the 'entropy' to an acceptable or an optimum level. By doing so, 
this writer would theorise that the said organisation would notice 
an increase in productivity, especially in relation to costs. 
Suggested indicators of increased 'entropy' within an 
organisation are fairly obvious. Increasing burn out rates, 
absentee rates, error rates, sick leave rates, a decrease in 
morale within the organisation, are all indicators of increasing 
'entropy'. There is of course an even more fundamental 

 To simply reduce the 'entropy' of an organisation, without 
reference to its cause is akin to treating the symptoms rather 
than the disease. It is incumbent upon managers who rightly 
see this as a serious issue, one which could potentially 
paralyse the organisation, to seek out the causes and to take 
the appropriate action, when it is required. By doing so, the 
manager then begins to demonstrate leadership qualities, 
such as valuing people, envisioning the big picture for the 
organisation and so on.(*)

Interestingly, Kouzes and Posner noted the role that 
leadership would need to assume in a highly entropic 
organisation or one experiencing a rupture in its state of 
equilibrium. "In the process of transformation, people and 
their organisations live with a high degree of ambiguity...As 
Meg Wheatley points out in Leadership and the New Science, 
the things we fear most in an organisation - fluctuations, 
disturbances, imbalances' - are also the primary sources of 
creativity. But how do we get from the scary, painful, and 
disorienting parts of this process to the liberating, 
exhilarating, and empowering parts? Fortunately, there are 
some useful guidelines for crossing the chasm of change. 
When confusion over ends and means abounds, leadership 
is essential. Leaders (must) master change - and they (must) 
master uncertainty, seizing the imperative to act."(3)(*) 

How successful a manager is at this, will rely to a large extent 
upon the effectiveness of communication within the 
organisation and indeed the manager's own communication 
skills. Good communication may require at times courage. It 
must be remembered that there is a hierarchy of effective 
communication techniques. Talking face to face with the 
people is always the best. 

This allows for nuances, voice inflections, body language, as 
well as context, to be properly understood. The telephone is 
the second best choice, though perhaps the more efficient. The 
telephone, whilst removing the added advantage of body 
language, still allows for voice inflections, tone, nuances and to 
a certain extent, context. 

The written word, by memo or letter, whilst still being the most 
formal method, relies on the comprehension ability of the 
reader and effectively removes the possibility of the receiver 
determining nuances, voice inflections and may make 
determining the correct context of the message even harder to 
ascertain. As a result, the writer must be very specific, 
complete and entirely clear about the meaning of what is 
written. Communication, both personal and the techniques 
employed, are essential if the manager is to enlist the goodwill 
and assistance of the employees to keep the 'entropy' in 
balance. In the long run, adopting an approach to maintain 
'entropy' at an optimum level and then selecting an appropriate 
means of communication to assist with this, can only enhance 
the manager's role. In turn, it is likely to also enhance the 
perception that significant others within the organisation have 
of the manager. This is not to suggest that it will be easy. 

One approach to this has been suggested by Kouzes and 

o Set up little experiments. In doing so, you minimise the 
amount of 'entropy' added to the organisation and thus 
damage control in the event of a failure becomes more 

o Make it safe for others to experiment. Initiative should be 
rewarded and seen for the life giving activity that it is. o 
Eliminate firehosing. Don't kill initiative with catch phrases 
such as: 'it's not in the budget, it may not work, what about 
tradition, etc.' 

o Work even with ideas that sound strange initially. If this 
does not happen, a golden opportunity may pass you by, or 
worse yet, people may stop offering creative solutions and 
ideas that would be beneficial to the organisation. 

o Honor your risk takers. All organisations need prophets to 
help reduce 'entropy' to an optimum level and thus maintain 
or enhance the other profits. A high staff morale can make the 
manager's task much easier. 

o Debrief every failure as well as every success. This is 
important for the learning organisation. As much, possibly 
even more, can be learnt from failure as can be learnt from 

o Model risk taking. If staff see their managers taking 
initiative, taking the risks (even if they are well calculated 
ones), then they will be encouraged to do the same. 

o Encourage possibility thinking. An organisation 
experiencing much ambiguity due to increasing 'entropy' and 
rapid change is more likely to harness the creative energy of 
the chaos by seeing the change as being rich in possibilities 
and potential. 

o Maximize opportunities for choice. Encourage people to 
offer an alternative to their first idea, if for no other reason 
than it provides a possible 'fall back' position to work from. 

o Make formal clothing and titles optional. If there truly is an 
urgency in your organisation overcoming high levels of 
ambiguity and 'entropy', be prepared to abandon bureaucratic 
ideas and literally let people roll their sleeves up and pitch in 
with some help. Informality can bring order out of this type of 

It is important to remember, that even self - organising and 
renewable systems or modes of organisation create 'entropy'. 
According to Davies, "self - organisation need not conflict with 
the second law of thermodynamics: such processes always 
generate 'entropy' as a by - product, so there is a price to be 
paid to achieve order out of chaos."(5) Consequently, the 
thoughts offered by Kouzes and Posner may be as applicable 
as a monitoring technique, to a well run organisation where 
'entropy' is at an optimum, as it is to an organisation surviving 
with high levels of 'entropy' and ambiguity.


The questions that remain are simple. Within our 
organisations (which hopefully are self - organising to some 
extent), how much 'entropy' is produced and how much 
should be produced? Is the cost of such 'entropy' effective 
when measured against the resources (including the human 
and financial resources) of the organisation? For managers 
the lesson from science is clear. Yet, the fears and prejudices 
of key individuals may very well prevent the organisation from 
taking advantage of the 'New Physics'. If this occurs, it may 
be for no other reason, than the fact that it is derived from a 
non - business discipline. 

On this point managers need to be clear. 

"Without equivocation, I guarantee that if you first focus your 
efforts on matters of the highest concern and profit that attend 
your position, you will set free so much more of your crew's, 
and your own, initiative, power, innovation, and imagination, 
all of which are inseparable from mission success. Make it 
so." (Captain Jean-Luc Picard).(6)


* See: Gardner. John. THE TASK OF LEADERSHIP. in 
Gardner. John. W. (1990). ON LEADERSHIP. New York. The 
Free Press. Ch.2. 

3. Kouzes. James.M., Posner. Barry. Z. (1995). THE 
LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE. Jossey - Bass. San Francisco. 

* See also: Wheatley. Margaret. J. (1992). LEADERSHIP 
AND THE NEW SCIENCE. Berrett - Koehler Publishers. San 
Francisco. PP. 75-88. 

4. Adapted from: Kouzes. James.M., Posner. Barry. Z. (1995). 
Francisco. P. 80-88 Passim. 

5. Davies. Paul. (1995). ABOUT TIME: EINSTEIN'S 
UNFINISHED REVOLUTION. Penguin Books. London. P.36. 

6. Roberts. Wess., Ross. Bill. (1995). MAKE IT SO: 
GENERATION. Pocket Books. New York. P. 41.

4. Roberts. Wess., Ross. Bill. (1995). MAKE IT SO: 
GENERATION. Pocket Books. New York. 

5. Wheatley. Margaret. J. (1992). LEADERSHIP AND THE 
NEW SCIENCE. Berrett - Koehler Publishers. San Francisco.

All images and photos by the author, David John Ivers. Photos 
have been added to the eBook / PDF version, to enhance 
the publication.