Beware of These Common Catalyst Horror Stories
October 26, 2021 | Catalysts
by ExperiencePoint

According to a Bain & Company study, of over 300 companies attempting large-scale change, only 12% achieved or exceeded their aims. More than half of the companies settled for less than 100% of their original goal. Against these odds, scaling behavior change can seem terrifying. Establishing a solid Catalyst framework at the start of scaling change is necessary for the overall success and longevity of the social movement.

As a result, the alignment, selection and deployment of change agents must be executed with extreme thoroughness. Without a thriving network of Catalysts, change cannot be scaled or sustained over time. To make sure that you don’t fall prey to the same deployment mistakes that many organizations in the past have, consider these Catalyst horror stories that ExperiencePoint has come across in our 25 years of helping businesses tackle change.

Catalyst Deployment Horror Stories 

Cynical Enthusiasm

When enthusiasm for change isn’t adequately channeled or supported by leaders, it quickly decays into cynicism. That is to say, if an organization carries through with Catalyst selection but then fails to act, they disrupt momentum and lose credibility in the eyes of their employees. Catalysts feel as if they have wasted their time and are less likely to commit to the initiative again. When facing the already daunting challenge of scaling behavior change, losing credibility could be the final dagger to the heart. Employees perceive failing to act as a lack of commitment. If you don’t commit to the change management process from the start, you will have to invest later, and when you invest later, it will be with tremendous interest because you’ve already bruised your credibility.  

Asking Too Much of Change Catalysts

Scaling behavior change is not hocus-pocus—the initiative is attainable through proper organization and preparation. By the time Catalysts are selected, the alignment team should have a complete Catalyst framework already put in place with training workshops, online simulations, coaching sessions and facilitation aid. Often, leaders mistakenly assume that momentum organically progresses to action. Having supportive assets put in place ahead of time ensures that momentum is scaled while also taking pressure off Catalysts to market themselves. Their main job is to scale knowledge and support new working methods, not drum up interest for workshops. By allowing Catalysts to focus on their primary jobs, organizations significantly increase their odds of successfully scaling and sustaining behavior change.

Catalysts Being Pulled in Too Many Directions

Last week’s blog on Catalyst deployment warned readers that the deadliest threat to scaling change is a wavering manager or sponsor. We’ve seen our share of managers pull Catalysts back into their daily work, or sponsors demand 100 percent of Catalyst’s time, despite asking them to partake in a company-wide initiative. Catalysts can also fall-trap to peers that overly depend on them for help, treating Catalysts as crutches that are always available. In both scenarios, Catalysts must manage their time wisely and not get distracted from reaching their goal. If the initiative’s success depends on Catalyst concentration and time management, it is best to mitigate all possible distractions.

Catalyst Success 

While there are many Catalyst horror stories, there are also many common key performance indicators of Catalyst success, including the number of workshops given, workshop attendance, or module training engagement. However, Catalysts only identify as successful when their peers successfully approach work in better ways. Social movement occurs once large groups of employees start to use new ways of working in their daily lives; the organization’s narrative and culture evolve. Although the journey may seem the equivalent of staying the night at a haunted mansion, it is possible to scale behavior change successfully with the right tools and resources, like Catalysts.  

New call-to-action