Provocative Propositions

In the hyperactive and challenging world in which we all live, it is becoming harder and harder for business leaders to find time to read, reflect and gain insight from the many valuable sources at our disposal.

In "Provocative Propositions", The Beacon Group attempts to fill that void by offering our opinion, often rather pointed, on a wide array of issues we believe are relevant to leading a modern organization.

The articles are catalogued into 12 categories so you can quickly and easily find a topic of particular interest. We then offer three easy steps under the heading "In Our Opinion" to help business leaders take action on the key themes.

Simply click on the category and read away.

Igniting Champions
Organizations profile prospective employees and leaders for a number of vital characteristics. Business acumen, management capability, interpersonal skills. Rarely, if ever do they look for the organizational equivalent to “a spark”.

Rarely do they look for that natural born catalyst. Someone who can initiate great amounts of growth through people, someone who can see through the bureaucracy and decide what must be done, right now.

Organizations need catalysts now, more than ever. With most employees paralyzed, or at least demoralized by the current economic situation, organizations must tap into a catalyst’s natural abilities and kick-start the road to recovery.

Chemical Reaction

In tough times catalysts are what you need. Just as importantly, in great times you are also wise to seek out and listen to your catalysts.

Catalysts are wired differently. They understand what it takes to achieve an organization’s growth target, and how to get around roadblocks that may get in the way. To clearly define the role of a catalyst, authors Jeanne Liedtka, Robert Rosen, and Robert Wiltbank in their book "The Catalyst" looked to the field of chemistry to solidify their concept. They defined the behaviour of the catalyst as someone who speeds up a process that must happen within an organization.

The organization knows what must change, what they must do to reach their target, however it takes a catalyst to cut through the analysis, and bureaucracy to get the process started – now.

Mental Models

Trapped. You can’t do it. There are too many constraints. Bureaucracy, corporate policies, you name it. There is no way you can reach your new, higher targets with this impossible number of constraints. Authors Liedtka, Rosen, and Wiltbank would argue that it’s all in your head.

They argue that in many cases organizations teach - or better yet brainwash - managers into believing that there is no taking control of the organization and making the changes necessary to achieve long term substantial growth. In the organization’s eyes the key is to minimize risk, and maximize control. In other words maintain the status quo.

Catalysts see through this trap. They know that if they can build a sound business case to achieve the company’s goals, they will get the permission they need. They know they can change the company.

In Our Opinion
The Beacon Group’s Keys to Igniting the Catalysts in your Organization

The good news is that you can profile catalysts using a standard DISC assessment. Here are some of the traits you should be looking for:

Dominance – Catalysts have extremely high scores here. They are frustrated with the here and now, and are always looking for the next big thing. They are also very task focused. If the growth target is “meaty” enough, they’ll get to work on it immediately

Influence – Again high scores. Catalysts know that they can’t do this alone. They know that they must influence others in the organization to get on board with them, and pursue this new approach together.

Steadfastness – Catalysts score lower here. While the traits of this area of personality are important, they become secondary when there is a major change process underway. Catalysts are not shackled by their organization’s past. They understand it’s importance, but they never feel constrained by it.

Conscientiousness – These too will be lower scores. Catalysts often choose uncharted waters for their change plans, which is contrary to what this element of personality relies on. Catalysts love to learn as they go; rules and regulations may just get in the way.
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