Catalytic Mechanisms are simple managerial tools, originally described by Jim Collins, which can help organizations to turn goals into results.
In an article in the Harvard Business Review in 1999 entitled "Turning Goals into Results: The Power of Catalytic Mechanisms", Stanford Professor James C. (Jim) Collins, co-author of best-selling books "Good to Great" and "Built to Last" outlines the crucial link between Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (a concept from "Built to Last") and performance - a link he calls catalytic mechanism.
Catalytic mechanisms are the crucial link between objectives and performance - they are a galvanizing, non bureaucratic way to turn one into the other. They are the devices that translate lofty aspirations into concrete reality. They make big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGs) reachable.
Based on research, Collins notes five characteristics that separate catalytic mechanisms from traditional managerial devices: 1.A catalytic mechanism produces desired results in unpredictable ways. Unlike traditional systems, procedures and practices - which may lead to bureaucracy and mediocrity - catalytic mechanisms let organizations achieve greatness by allowing people to do unexpected things, to show initiative and creativity, to step outside the scripted path. 2.A catalytic mechanism distributes power for the benefit of the overall system, often to the great discomfort of those who traditionally hold power. 3.A catalytic mechanism has teeth. In contrast to lofty aspirations, a catalytic mechanism puts a process in place that all but guarantees that the vision will be fulfilled. 4.A catalytic mechanism ejects viruses. In contrast to traditional controls that are designed to get employees to act in the right way, catalytic mechanisms help organizations to get the right people in the first place, keep them, and eject those who do not share the company's core values. 5.A catalytic mechanism produces an...