1.1 Finding the Name in Self-Defense against Burnout and Suicide

dreamstime_xs_61548075Initially, The Catalysts Way was a personal story. My personal story.

I studied Computer Science and Mechatronics at the JKU in Linz. In 2000, I left academia and joined a large consulting company with a three letter acronym. I was an IT Architect, basically because I didn’t like the other options, i.e. becoming an IT Specialist, a Consultant, or a Project Manager. As an IT Architect I was technically responsible for the success of client projects.

Project business is often demanding, especially when it is about delivering custom software, since software projects tend to take longer and hence cost more than expected. For tough problems or tight deadlines, clients often approached large consulting companies to make the impossible happen. The clients were demanding a lot, the consulting companies had agreed to a lot (for high prices). A few months into a project, it was quite typical for pressure to build up: technological challenges led to delays, requirements were unclear and had to be reworked, the scope seemed to extend, still the deadlines didn’t move.

During 5 years of working in the project business for that large consulting company several of my colleagues could not stand that constant pressure: at least 5 colleagues had a burnout, 2 even committed suicide. There are always a lot of reasons that lead to personal tragedies, but the environment surely had its influence.

Once it was clear for me that I couldn’t climb the career ladder in my technical role any further, I knew that I had to quit my job and my newly founded consulting business needed a name. After some hours of brainstorming, I opted for “Catalysts” and here is why:

In the field of chemistry, a catalyst …

  • is a substance that accelerates the rate (speed) of a chemical reaction without itself being transformed or consumed by the reaction.
  • enables reactions to occur much faster or at lower temperatures because of changes that they induce in the reactants.
  • provides an alternative pathway, with a lower activation energy, for a reaction to proceed. This means that catalysts reduce the amount of energy needed to start a chemical reaction. Molecules that would not have had the energy to react or that have such low energies that they probably would have taken a long time to react are able to react in the presence of a catalyst. Thus, more molecules that need to gain less energy to react will go through the chemical reaction.

In the field of consulting, a catalyst …

  • is a person that accelerates the rate (speed) of a process or change without herself being exhausted
  • enables change to occur much faster because of her assistance, presence and influence
  • provides an alternative pathway, with lower risk or emotional barriers, for a change to take place. This means that catalysts reduce the amount of effort needed to start a change. People who would not have had the energy to change or who have such low intrinsic motivation that they probably would have taken a long time to change are able to change in the presence of a catalyst. Thus, more people who need to gain less external support will go through the change.

Being self-employed, I knew that I needed to set up an environment that allowed me to utilize all my skills and to develop all my potentials without burning out. Out of self-defense.

Initially the environment just needed to be fine for me, over time, hundreds of people have enjoyed it and thousands are to come.

This blog, “The Catalysts Way”, will expand on the many facets that together make up a wonderful environment for me and my colleagues.

Vorheriger Beitrag
1.0 How it all started
Nächster Beitrag
1.2 Agile ⇔ Waterfall, or I didn’t mean it that way

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