Prepare and seize the unforeseeable

Control the atmosphere to create business

Can atmosphere be controlled? Yes, it can

One of our gurus, former Harvard professor and author of the book The Trusted Advisor David Maister, once said: “I’ve attended the best American and British universities and business schools and learnt a lot of good stuff. The only thing I didn’t learn was that the world is full of people...”.

Control the atmosphere to create business

We believe that this is an incredibly precise way of conveying the difference between theory and practice when people are to be relocated and organisations developed. In this connection, there is one key concept in particular we would like to draw your attention to - atmosphere. Atmosphere is not a word that occurs as frequently as change management in the average textbook, probably because many - both researchers and executives - perceive atmosphere as something undocumented and uncontrollable that "just arises". Whether that atmosphere is good or bad, intense og indifferent is more a matter of chance than the result of conscious action.

But can atmosphere be controlled? Yes, it can. If in doubt, just think of all those times you created the wrong atmosphere unintentionally. We have all been there - it is worringly easy. But if that is the case, then it must also be possible to create the right atmosphere. And note that we are referring on purpose to the right atmosphere rather than a positive atmosphere! It might just as well be as serious, energetic, despairing or even an outright crisis atmosphere. It all depends on what we want to achieve.

Two core elements are involved in controlling atmosphere. First of all, there is the preperation and planning ofa script and tools suitable for the situation. What atmosphere are we after, and how do we create it deliberately? E.g. through dialogue, involvement and change of pace. Secondly, thereis the ability to seize the unforeseeable - that will always arise no matter how much we plan - and use it positively. Many years of experience in carrying out large change projects have taught us that carefully orchestrated "disturbances" are a highly effectively tool when creating the right atmosphere.

You’ll probably be feeling awkward and way out of your comfort zone - do it anyway!

Try to recall the prevailing atmosphere in a few decisive situations at e.g. a board meeting, management meeting, in the strategy project or at the general staff meeting that either went well or badly. Would they have turned out differently if the atmosphere had been intense rather than relaxed, or humourous rather than serious? Yes, most likely, wich makes it twice as frustrating that atmosphere is such an intangible to many of us who hail from the traditional education system.

Here, we have learnt when we are to communicate something or make an important decision, we need to work focusedly and systematically on producing well-structured reports, often based on a rational problem analysis and subsequent conclusion. This is also both appropriate and imporant because it is the very basis for our credibility.

However, it is just not enough to know WHAT we need to say. We also need to know exactly WHY and HOW to say it. We have to get used the fact that it is necessary to allocate resources to preparing the tools that support th purpose of the presentation. Otherwise, we risk standing - once again - in the PowerPoint syndrome's gloomy auditorium where we ourselves have reduced the people we are trying to communicate with to impersonal silhouettes. Where is the atmosphere in that?