SUNConferences, Computers and Industrial Engineering 42

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Being a Catalyst for Organisational Transformation
Cobus Rossouw

Last modified: 2012-05-21


A catalyst is the substance that changes the rate of a chemical reaction, which is called catalysis.  Within this analogy, industrial engineers can be catalysts within the catalysis of organisational transformation.  Some perspectives:

- Unlike other reagents that participate in the chemical reaction, a catalyst is not consumed by the reaction itself. 

- A catalyst may participate in multiple chemical reactions.

- Catalysts that speed the reaction are called positive catalysts.  Substances that slow a catalyst's effect in a chemical reaction are called inhibitors.

- Substances that increase the activity of catalysts are called promoters, and substances that deactivate catalysts are called catalytic poisons. 

- Although catalysts are not consumed by the reaction itself, they may be inhibited, deactivated, or destroyed by secondary processes.

Using these characteristics, organisational transformation is thus described as catalysis where the change in business improvement rate (similar to chemical reaction rate) is due to industrial engineers being a catalysts within the organisation (similar to participation of a substance).

In this motivational perspective on the role of industrial engineers, Cobus Rossouw references his more than 20 years of experience in business large and small across various industries.