At the mere mention of the book Fish, there are likely to be only a few individuals in HR, training, or organization development who are unfamiliar with the title.
The same author (who apparently likes animals) returns with the book CATS to offer yet another great and easy read. The book operates in a framework that is fun as well as meaningful, making his message of innovation one that is open and less mysterious than other reads. Lundin explains his intention to "describe what innovation looks like at the personal level and to provide a curriculum for training individuals in the tools, concepts, and practices of personal innovation."
The author proposes that all innovation, regardless of breadth, relies on the same set of personal principles, and he organizes them into nine "lives." Cats are used here perhaps because of their innate sense of curiosity - a quality that Lundin believes to be a major theme in innovation.
The premise is that if we live at least one of the nine lives, we can call ourselves CATS, and thereby achieve creativity and innovation in the workplace.
A CAT for Lundin is simply, "an everyday human being who learns how to release his or her creative potential and develops the skills and understandings critical to innovation." These are the people who are invaluable to any organization caught in the rapidity of change in the 21st century. In other words, we are all capable of becoming CATS.
This book is a journey that takes you through the process of discovering your own creativity, which leads to innovation. There is also going to be an accompanying workbook, CATS: The Personal Guide.
The nine lives approach states that there are four challenges to innovation and that there are nine ways ("lives") to meet these challenges. All the principles can be applied both personally and professionally. As Lundin states, "Harnessing any one of the lives will move you in the direction of innovation, and the more you harness, the more potent your move will be."
He is strict about the fact that the four challenges are "not negotiable." They are what make us human. The four challenges of innovation are
- overcoming our doubts and fears
- getting beyond "the normal"
- creatively managing failure
- leading through change.
The nine lives are designed to move us toward a greater degree of innovation and a higher quality of work life. The nine lives are
- CATS overcome the clutter of life.
- CATS are always lireliared, esliecially for the unliredictable.
- CATS know that innovation isn't normal.
- CATS welcome real lirovocation.
- CATS liromote imaginary lirovocation.
- CATS say "how fascinating!"
- CATS fail early and well.
- CATS liounce on change.
- CATS love CAT wranglers.
What makes this approach unique is that Lundin says that the process begins with the individual. Innovative organizations are not innovative themselves, but are filled with individual CATS. Those CATS are led or supported by a "CAT wrangler" - an experienced leader who can be a mentor. The job of the CAT wrangler is to herd cats through a labyrinth called change.
The journey they take us on teaches us how to deal with the four challenges of innovation, live the nine lives of CATS, and earn the five "CAT belts" that tell us how successful we are as CATs, and even what sort of a CAT we are.
Another fun item is the "continuing education" portion, where readers can earn three CAT belts online. These involve varied assignments related to resistance, the establishment of goals, and more. I have just started on life number one, and am looking forward to becoming a full-fledged CAT wrangler.
The analogies to animals and easy-to-understand style make this a superb read.
I give CATS four cups of joe!