We often use the term ‘chemistry’ as something that you need to have, between people, for example, or something that there isn’t. For example in hiring we may say, he was good in skills, but the chemistry just was not there.
I have always been intrigued why we use chemistry as opposed to, say, physics, or biology. ‘Chemistry’, I suppose, gives a sense of interaction, like molecules.
As a curiosity, I went to search for Chemistry and motion, to imagine Organizational Chemistry. One of those conceptual, fishing expeditions leading possibly to nowhere, possibly to find something completely unexpected, possibly a waste, possibly fun. Who knows.
I landed in a Chemistry teaching site for kids. ‘Molecules in motion’ contains key concepts. Here there are:
Heating a liquid increases the speed of the molecules.
An increase in the speed of the molecules competes with the attraction between molecules and causes molecules to move a little further apart.
Cooling a liquid decreases the speed of the molecules.
A decrease in the speed of the molecules allows the attractions between molecules to bring them a little closer together.
So I did my export to Organizations:
Heating, (increasing pressure, injecting urgency in an organization, stress) increases the speed of people interacting (the molecules).
An increase in the speed of people interacting (the molecules) competes with the attraction between people (molecules) and causes people (molecules) to move a little further apart.
Cooling an organization (liquid) decreases the speed of people interacting (the molecules)
A decrease in the speed of people interacting (the molecules) allows the attractions between people ( molecules) to bring them a little closer together.
What could be translated into: heat a bit to weak up, but not so much as to launch frenetic busyness in which people interaction also will suffer. Calm down and allow your brain to be used properly. A bit of cooling ( anti-busyness) will increase the chance of people interaction. Frenzy spaces make headlines, also possibly uncontrolled boiling. As management consultants (!) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels put it, ‘all that is solid melts in the air’.
So the one in charge of the thermostat has a lot of power: wake up from collective sleep, heat, cool, avoid melting, protect some solidity, heat again, cool again.
Mmm, the leader as a thermostat .There you are.