by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
Gary Silverman owns a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the editor of the financial newsletter Personal Money Planning, writes the newspaper columns Your Money and Biz2Biz, and hosts the cable talk show, Money Cent$. Contact him at www.PersonalMoneyPlanning.com.
Stephen Lundin was the coauthor of the book (and video) FISH! , which used the backdrop of Seattle fishmongers to inspire business owners to boost morale in the workplace. FISH! seems to perennially be on the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestseller lists, so even if you've never heard of him, you've got to know he gets people's attention.
In his new book, CATS, Lundin has created a self-help book for the stodgy management culture that pervades corporate America. His emphasis is on innovation. Lundin's premise is that four challenges get in the way of innovation. They are Distractions, Normal (sticking with the status quo), Failure (focusing on the negative rather than embracing the importance of it to learning), and Leadership. He feels that to overcome these challenges, "It is time to turn things upside down."
To do the turning, Lundin introduces the nine lives of CATS. Each has its own chapter and each is tasked with unlocking the creativity within you and your organization.
Instead of delving into each chapter, I want to discuss who might get something out of this book. If you are not willing to change, if you like things how they are, if your number one goal is to make sure that everything is done the same way every time, then don't waste your money on this book.
In reading this last paragraph, one position comes to mind: Chief Compliance Officer. If anyone wants to ensure that failure never happens and that everyone is following procedures by the letter, it's the CCO. Yet even they can get something out of this book. Because while the end goal may be to have people act like nice little robots, getting them to do so takes a heck of a lot of innovation.
My guess is that the kind of person who would be interested in this book is the kind of person who would be open-minded enough to get something out of it. That is the kind of person who would be willing to change their routine for the sake of it; to consciously look at normal situations in an abnormal way; to hang around people who are different than they are in background and beliefs; who find failure a learning exercise rather than, well, failure.
If you are that kind of person and are looking at ways to turn things upside down in your organization, or if you are a bit of a reluctant stick-in-the-mud ready to get unstuck, then you are ready for CATS.
The McGraw Hill Companies (2009)