What are catalytic mechanisms? , HR Management

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Catalytic Mechanisms are easy managerial tools, initially explained by Jim Collins, which can assist organizations to convert goals into results.


Catalytic mechanisms are the vital links between performance and objectives - they are galvanizing, non bureaucratic way to convert one into another. They are the devices that convert lofty aspirations into concrete actuality. They create big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGs) achievable.

On the basis of research, Collins notes five characteristics that divide catalytic mechanisms from traditional managerial devices:

  1. A catalytic mechanism generates desired consequences in unpredictable ways. Unlike traditional systems, procedures and practices - which may give rise to bureaucracy and mediocrity - catalytic mechanisms let organizations attain greatness by permitting people to do unpredicted things, to demonstrate initiative and creativity, to step outside the scripted path.
  2. A catalytic mechanism disseminates power for the advantage of the overall system, often to the huge discomfort of those who traditionally possess power.
  3. Catalytic mechanisms have teeth. Contrary to lofty aspirations, a catalytic mechanism keeps a process in place that all but assures that the vision will be accomplished.
  4. A catalytic mechanism expels viruses. Contrary to traditional controls that are planned to get employees to perform in the right way, catalytic mechanisms assist organizations to get the right people at the first place, keep them, and throw those who do not share company's core values.
  5. A catalytic mechanism generates an ongoing effect. Not like electrifying off-site meetings, stimulating strategic initiatives, or approaching crisis, a good catalytic mechanism can help for decades.

Usage of Catalytic Mechanisms. Applications

  • Organizational effectiveness.
  • Strategy implementation.

Steps in the Catalytic Mechanisms.

Guidelines for creating Catalytic Mechanisms, Collins provides a few rules

  1. Don't just add, remove as well
  2. Develop, don't imitate.
  3. Take use of money, but not only money.
  4. Allow your mechanisms to develop.
  5. Construct an incorporated set of catalytic mechanisms. 

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