Title: Turning Goals Into Results: The Power of Catalytic Mechanisms
Author: Jim Collins
Publisher: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation
A book the size of a note-book, this book is part of the Harvard Business Review series where each volume contains a groundbreaking idea that has shaped best practices and inspired countless managers around the world.
The catalytic mechanism is a codified term that Jim Collins named as 'the crucial link between objectives and performance... They make big, hairy, audacious goals reachable.' This term came out from his observation and study of a simple yet extremely powerful managerial tool that has helped organisations turn goals into results.
One question that one could ask in the formulation of a 'catalytic mechanism' could be: "What would it take to actually reach an ambitious goal?"
In this book, the author describes the various characteristics of a catalytic mechanism. He also illustrates examples of how catalytic mechanisms have been used to achieve big, hairy, audacious goals.
In summary, a catalytic mechanism share five distinct characteristics. These are:
1) Produces desired results in unpredictable ways
2) Distributes power for the benefit of the overall system, often to the great discomfort of those who traditionally hold power.
3) "Has teeth", it puts a process in place that all but guarantees that the vision of the organisation will be fulfilled.
4) Ejects viruses, i.e. it helps 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) Produces an ongoing effect
In this book, the author also provides a few general principles based on his research that supports the process of building catalytic mechanisms effectively. These are:
- Don't just add, remove
- Create, don't copy
- Use money, but not only money
- Allow your mechanisms to evolve
- Build an integrated set
This book is an accessible read to expand one's perspectives on what it would take to reach an ambitious goal with a long time frame. Check it out: https://hbr.org/product/turning-goals-into-results-the-power-of-catalytic-mechanisms-harvard-business-review-classics/10099E-KND-ENG