Why Leaders Love Catalytic Events

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year in our business. We’re hosting our annual meeting. Yes, the hours are grueling, stress levels do rise, and there is considerable expense – but it’s worth it. Catalytic events can be the spark an organization needs to go to the next level.

Leaders understand the power of events – they also understand, all events are not created equally – I’ll write more about that idea on Wednesday. The event we’re hosting this week is intended to be a catalytic event. If done well, this event should help us accomplish at least three critical objectives.
Create alignment – The larger an organization becomes, the more challenging it becomes to create alignment. Also, the more dynamic the environment, the more difficult it is to maintain alignment. Just like a car needs a periodic alignment check, so do the people in an organization. A catalytic event can serve as a group reminder regarding what’s important and why. Vision evaporates and events can be part of the solution to refill the vision bucket. The more aligned an organization, the greater its potential for impact.
Foster unity – There’s something empowering about pursuing a worthy goal with others. Yes, we can work alone, but goals that can be accomplished alone are often not large enough to really motivate people long term. There is something in people that makes them want to be part of something bigger than themselves. When you host a catalytic event, the attendees may draw knowledge and even insight from the content, but they grow in strength from the crowd. Although not the primary objective, “We’re all in this together” is one of the intangible benefits of catalytic events.
Inspire action – Catalytic events differ from some other types of events in that the outcome cannot be measured during the event – unlike a training event, in which you can actually test for knowledge transfer and skill development. The test of a catalytic event is after the attendees leave. Do they act on the information they’ve received? If not, the event was not a success. My friend, Tim Elmore, taught me that the best catalytic events often launch a process. So, one of the questions to ask while designing your catalytic event is this, “What is the process we want to launch during this event?” Whether you have a formal process or not, if there is no action, the event failed in its fundamental purpose.
Aligned, unified action - that’s what most leaders I know are trying to accomplish within their organizations. Men and women working together, focused on the same outcome and doing the right things well to make the vision a reality.
There are many other activities leaders do on purpose to create this preferred future, but catalytic events are a play many leaders call on a regular basis. If done well, the benefits can be staggering.[GLS_Shield]

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