Archive for the ‘Catalyst’ Category

Want to Control a Loose-Knit Collection of People?

October 10, 2007

Want to alter the basic structure of an organization? For example, want to make a decentralized organization into a centralized organization? Here’s one strategy.

Concentrate the power and a hierarchy will form – making the organization more centralized and easier to control.

If you really want to centralize an organization, hand property rights to the catalyst (the person who is very vocal and good at connecting people) and tell him to distribute resources as he sees fit. With power over property rights, the catalyst turns into a CEO and a hierarchy forms.

Wikipedia faces danger if it raises too much money. Ironically, the system works because it is underfunded and because almost everyone is a volunteer. If coveted paid positions are introduced, turf battles and a hierarchical system might result. With concentrated power, Wikipedia would become more centralized and begin to lose its collaborative environment.

The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom

Are you a traditional leader or a catalyst?

September 2, 2007

“In chemistry a catalyst is any element or compound that initiates a reaction without fusing into that reaction.  For example, take nitrogen and hydrogen, two of the most common elements on earth, put them in a container, close the lid, come back a day later, and … nothing will have happened. But add ordinary iron to the equation and you’ll get ammonia, an important ingredient in fertilizers, polymers, and glass cleaners. The thing is, ammonia doesn’t have any iron in it — it’s made solely of hydrogen and nitrogen. The iron in this equation remains unchanged, it just facilitates the bonding of hydrogen and nitrogen.”

“In an organization a catalyst is a person who initiates an activity and then fades away into the background. In a decentralized organization a catalyst gets the decentralized organization going and then cedes control over to the members. For example, Jimmy Wales started Wikipedia and then allowed the members to take over – content and administration. Another example: Craig Newark started craigslist, and now the users of craigslist decide which categories to list on the site.”

“In letting go of the leadership role, the catalyst transfers ownership and responsibility to the group. A catalyst isn’t usually in it for praise and accolades. When his or her job is done, a catalyst knows it’s time to move on.”

The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom