Here are some key points from an article summarizing Jim Collins research on catalytic mechanisms for improving organizational performance.
Catalytic mechanisms are galvanizing, non-bureaucratic links that turn objectives, such as Collins’ concept of the BHAG, into performance.
There are several characteristics of catalytic mechanisms.
First, they often produce 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.”
Second, they have teeth. “In contrast to lofty aspirations a catalytic mechanism puts a process in place that all but guarantees that the vision will be fulfilled.”
Third, rather than being 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.”
Fourth, they have an ongoing effect. “Unlike electrifying off-site meetings, exciting strategic initiatives, or impending crises, a good catalytic mechanism can last for decades.