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Caring for Catalysts: A Safety Match

Caring for Catalysts: A Safety Match

Image by Nikita Veprikov, Ukraine https:veprikov.artstation.com The world of chemical reactions is like a stage… The actors on it are the elements. Clemens Winkler (German chemist 1838 – 1904) To be a corporate catalyst inciting change within an organisation or an industry is an exciting role. However, it is also a stressful, frustrating and oftentimes lonely one. A catalyst is a change maker, but change is one of the hardest things for people. The status quo by its very nature does not give up without a fight. When an organisation hires a change maker, the leaders who do that must realise that is only the first step on a long road ahead. Many organisations mistakenly believe they can hire a head of innovation, corporate innovator or intrapreneur and these people will transform the business. For a true chemical reaction to occur, there is so much more involved. Yes the change maker can catalyse change, but the organisation must also be primed for change. For this Thursday Thought, the chemical reaction involved in lighting a match provides a (ahem) striking metaphor. Safety match heads contain sulphur and oxidising agents, with powdered glass, colorants, fillers, and a binder made of glue and starch. The striking surface consists of powdered glass or sand, red phosphorus, binder, and filler. Early matches were cumbersome and inherently dangerous. The major innovation in the development of safety matches was the use of red phosphorus, not on the head of the match but instead on a specially designed striking surface. Let’s extract some analogies here for corporate change.