Project Management and Herding Cats

In managing a big project, have you ever felt like you were trying to “herd cats” to get everyone working together and moving in the same direction? If so, you’re not alone.

Several years ago, the Fallon agency of Minneapolis created a television commercial called “Cat Herders” for computer giant EDS. It’s one of my all time favorite commercials.

So what does cat herding have to do with project management? As it turns out, plenty. (That’s why this commercial is so funny.) I can think of three similarities:

  1. Cats are solitary animals. They don’t naturally herd. They shy away from groups. Some of your people may be the same way. That’s why as as leader you must constantly emphasize the value of collaboration.

    You must have a deep-seated conviction that people can do more as a team than they can on their own. You must force yourself to hold meetings and keep communicating about your projects. Otherwise, people go-it-alone, and the project begins to unravel.

  2. Cats are seemingly aloof. They just don’t seem to care. They can take it or leave it. Some people in the corporate world are like this, too. I often hear leaders lament, “My people just don’t care.” The truth is that this is a leadership problem not a people problem, and that makes it your problem.

    Your job as a leader is to get your people emotionally engaged. To do this you must first relate the project to the bigger picture. You must answer the question, “Why is this project so important?” Second, you must relate the project to their personal goals. You must answer the question, “Why does this project matter to them?

  3. Cats are easily distracted. If you throw a paper ball or drag a colored string in front of them, they almost instantly stop what they are doing and start playing. People are often like this, too. Let’s face it: we live in a world with lots of distractions. It takes enormous discipline to stay focused and on-task.

    As a leader, you must first of all model this behavior. Are you focused? Are you easily distracted? Are you frequently taken off-task? If so, then you are going to create a culture of distraction. You can’t fix this in your organization until you fix it in your own head.

My wife, Gail, who grew up with a lot of cats, just reminded me that the key to cats is showing affection. They love to be stroked. When you do it right, they come alive and purr. They won’t leave you alone and will follow you anywhere.

People are the same way. They need affirmation. They need recognition. They need to be told they are doing a great job. In a nutshell, that’s the secret to herding cats.

Question: What can you learn about project management from observing cats? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.somethingiscooking.com bastiaan

    Hahaha, I like your post. Looks familiar to me. I understand that you stress the leadership to “herd the cats”. My technology background drove me to software tools to herd the cats. I learnt that http://www.somethingiscooking.com is setting up a pragmatic project management environment. I I think it is worth to take a look at.

  • http://christianlovestories.blogspot.com Kristy Dykes

    Oh, man, this is SO applicable to pastoring a congregation. Another post for my husband to see! Pastors and wives do a lot of stroking. They have to (or should). As one pastor said, “I found out sheep bite!”
    Kristy Dykes

  • http://www.mpmm.com Eve Sheridan

    I have never heard project management described as herding cats before! Cats (like any pet) thrive on routine and knowing what is coming next. I guess that is why having a good plan in place makes it more likely your project will succeed. Using a formal project management methodology (such as MPMM) is so important.

  • http://www.mikezimmer.typepad.com Mike Zimmer

    Great post!

    I use this analogy in a presentation I give on working for and leading nonprofit boards. Many people who’ve taken my seminar have never heard of herding cats before but always find it a very apt comparison.

    I will certainly have to get this video clip soon.

    Mike

  • http://twitter.com/mliziniewicz Maciej Liziniewicz

    Hi Michael, just found this post, I know it is four years old but was looking for something about project management. Your youtube content is not working – just a note so you can fix it – thanks :) Great post thou!

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Nice way to get across some fundamentals of leadership. What’s interesting about this approach is that people learn in different ways. Cat metaphors…anther tool in the teaching toolbox!  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is an unlikely source, isn’t it?

      • Lucy Ann Moll

        Nah, a likely source. So sayeth my kitties, one of whom has congregation of felines that meet in our backyard every Sunday a.m. for worship to their Creator God. LOL

  • http://twitter.com/mliziniewicz Maciej Liziniewicz

    Thank you for uploading the new link Michael! Great Video :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      EDS has some other videos on YouTube as well. They are all worth watching. In fact, I might post a few more. Thanks.

      • http://twitter.com/mliziniewicz Maciej Liziniewicz

        Haha! Great! I am using your blog as an inspiration and source of references for my Masters Dissertation in Training and Development! God Bless you mate for that brilliant influence tool!

    • Joe Lalonde

      It is a great video Maciej, I chuckled while watching it this morning.

      • http://chrisvonada.com chris vonada

        yea, me too! there are several others that are good… running with the squirrels, airplane…

  • http://byrdmouse.wordpress.com Jonathan

    Often I describe trying to move my family of a wife and three girls aged 14, 12, and 6 months as a mix between herding cats or pushing a rope with it sometimes being a matter of herding cats BY pushing a rope. How is that relative? I rarely think of trying to use the leadership skills that I have used extensively at work and other times on my family. Maybe it’s time for that to change.
    Thanks for a thought provoking post, as always.

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    I’ve herded a few cats in my day. I’ve learned that people (er, I mean CATS) want to be heard more than they need to be listened to. You don’t always have to do what they say (which is sometimes impossible), but rather let them know that what they say and think is valuable and important.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I should have picked up on heard vs. herd. That is pregnant with possibilities!

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        Indeed! The play-on-words was actually unintentional on my part. Nice catch!

    • Anonymous

      I totally agree Jeff. Being heard is so important. I have learned the difference between being “heard” and people simply “listening.”

    • Joe Lalonde

      I agree. I know when some of the leaders in my life don’t listen to me, I get discouraged and tend to hold back when my ideas and opinions are not valued.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        I’ve seen this too.  The simple act of acknowledging the voice can be powerfully encouraging.

  • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

    Love this, Michael. I think it’s a major leadership problem when leaders blame their followers. It really does start from the top down. 

    On another note, cat pee is the worst smell known to mankind. If you don’t coach/train your people well, they may just create a toxic environment :)

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs B_Schebs

      great tie in with Cat urine!   I NEVER thought I would type that on Michael’s Blog.

  • Rodney Bowen

    Great post, Michael!   I actually used the “herding cats” phrase at least 3 times in the past month (re: project management).  I especially appreciate your final comment that reads: 

    “People are the same way. They need affirmation. They need recognition. They need to be told
    they are doing a great job.”

    Will be tweeting that quote this morning! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great. Thank you.

  • http://www.chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

    Sometimes, once the cats are herded and the praise and affection is being handed out, we desire just a little praise and affection ourselves. We can’t help it but it gets in the way.

    • Anonymous

      Good reminder. Leaders need that affection as well. We need our cups filled so we can fill the cups of others. 

      • http://www.chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

        I don’t necessarily think that my cup NEEDS to be filled. I think that
        being a leader means we learn to overcome our pride and function
        without being praised. When we do struggle with that desire to be
        praised it hinders our leadership.

        • Anonymous

          You’re right that we should be able to be leaders without being praised, but we still need our cups filled in one way or another, whether by our spouse, other family member, or a friend. 

          • http://www.chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

            Absolutely. I totally agree. I wish I could get to the point where the
            difference between my needs and my desires aren’t so blurred.

          • Anonymous

            Me too. 

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    Great video, Michael!  And good observations.  I agree with Gail… people need affirmation and affection, just like cats.  Thanks for the post.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sequoiajoy Connie Brown

    I like this analogy, probably because I am that type of person.

    Cats don’t often come when they’re called, as dogs do. But, they will investigate a scratching noise you initiate. They can be enticed. Leaders who can frame assignments and goals in ways that respect an individual’s natural talents can win, rather than command, attention, buy-in and loyalty.

  • Anonymous

    I think you said it well when you said people need affirmations. They need to hear they’re doing a good job. They also need to be corrected when not doing their job right. I think so many leaders tend to do the latter without the former and their employees just walk around not feeling up to par. Not that we shouldn’t do our job without receiving affirmations, but it certainly makes it easier and worth the drive to work.

    Also, thought you might want to know that there may be a typo in your questions. Not sure you wanted the word have in there. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for catching that typo. I have now fixed it.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      People need feedback.  Without appropriate affirmation, people will often tend to think the worst.

      • Anonymous

        very true. 

  • http://jasonfountain.blogspot.com Jason Fountain

    I just cringed when I saw the video because I am NOT a cat person. It is, however, a brilliant analogy. At times, we are not going to necessarily “like” the people we are working with. However, we must find a way to pull them in and stay a part of the team. I love these short types of videos with a humorous message.

    • Anonymous

      Sometimes I’m not a cat person either. I get around certain people and immediately start sneezing. I want to be allergic so I don’t have to be around them, but God usually says otherwise. You’re right that we won’t always like the people, but God always grows us in the uncomfortable. 

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        I have seen several times now where the people that I don’t want to connect with or talk with are the exact people that I need to connect with or talk with.  God always has a plan.

        • Anonymous

          Yes. He puts “Extra Grace Required” (EGR) people in our path to grow us. He’s got a sense of humor. 

          • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

            “Extra Grace Required” – I like it!

  • Simon Fogg

    the post reminds me of an article in a series in Fast Company many years ago with the label Consultant Debunking Unit, see http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/22/cdu.html triggered by Warren Bennis’ book “Managing People Is Like Herding Cats”

    I also enjoyed this one about Andy Grove (Intel)’s book “Only The Paranoid Survive”, see http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/41/cdu.html

    lots of other consultancy speak debunked in the Fast Company archives, search @ http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=site:www.fastcompany.com+%22fastcompany.com%22+%22consultant+debunking+unit%22

  • http://profiles.google.com/sequoiajoy Connie Brown

    I think a leader may find it hard to effectively win cat-type followers’ support if the leader has a strong dislike of this type of person. If liking them isn’t possible, finding something to respect and honor may improve the relationship and situation.

  • Nancy Wall

    If you don’t engage them personally, they will always wander off to find their own path/pleasure.  You must stay connected with them.  They are very independent so you must stay connected.  They don’t come when they’re called like dogs do.  Excellent analogy.  I will not forget it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Dogs and cats really are different. My dog, Nelson, won’t leave my seed. My wife and I often joke that he is co-dependent. But so different with cats!

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    When the leader is a pit bull, it’s going to be hard to herd cats!

    • http://profiles.google.com/sequoiajoy Connie Brown

      A servant leadership style will work better with independent-minded followers.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        So true…

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Good point!

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      True.  Interesting, though, how many people think that a leader is supposed to like a pit bull.

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Nice post Mike,
    This could be applied to Leadership and Management on getting things done thru you people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nataraj.sasid Nataraj Sasid
  • Mariana

    What a concept! I am really impressed with all your blogs and I think this one is fantastic! I so agree with Jonathan (below!) I will definitely try it on my family! I believe they are my primary ministry and I can do better. Thanks!

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Man! You are so right. People get so distra…  Oooo! SQUIRREL!!!

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Ha ha

    • Joe Lalonde

      I thought it was Ooooooooooooo! Shiny!!! ?

      • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

        Great follow up, Joe. HA!  Glad someone else has the same sense of giggly I do.

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    Cats can also be pretty lazy, just like people!

  • David Distler

    Unlike huge usually slow moving cattle, cats are small and can be lightning fast. To not lose opportunities of connecting one must be always attentive.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      And also careful not to become discouraged when those lightning fast cats come to an abrupt stop for those frequent cat naps :)

  • http://bentune.blogspot.com/ Ben Tune

    I like #2.  People like to know their work is significant.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1383965280 Tim Young

    Good parody on project leadership, thanks for sharing.

  • http://cynthiaherron.wordpress.com Cynthia Herron

    I can see why the commercial struck a chord! Great post, and great way to start a Monday! I’m still smiling.

  • Joe Lalonde

    I see myself in your number 2 point. I’m sure I come across as aloof to my coworkers and others. And it’s not that I don’t care, I think it’s that I know it’s not the end of the world if something does not go as planned.

  • Klmead

    My husband is a cat herder (program manager).  After watching the video and reading your blog, I have much more appreciation for his work.

  • http://twitter.com/Terri_McG_Brown Terri McGauley Brown

    It’s so amazing to me how much the smallest details in life relate to the “big things.”  But yes, it has been my experience that loving and encouraging people is a great way to get their response to your leadership and direction.

  • http://patalexander.com Pat Alexander

    I use the term “Like Herding Cats Often”. As a consultant you have little control over your client’s days. Most of the time I can hold their attention and keep them on track when I am in the office. The big trick is to keep them on track with their tasks between visits.

    Your #2 point is vital for me keeping them engaged and moving forward. Thanks for this great post. It is so on point.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    As a high school senior English teacher, I can relate to this commercial and your points (especially #2 and 3). When they come to me, many of my students could care less about what I have to teach them and distractions abound in their lives.  I constantly talk to them about the value of their education and encourage them to think and write about their goals. As they  found out that I was serious, my students did get their work done in my class and they did graduate. But, I’ll have to admit that sometimes, it was like wrestling  and herding those cats.

  • http://profiles.google.com/happypostalvan Raymond Schwedhelm

    Thank you Michael for your post and leadership.

    I had to laugh, for the
    Lord through time has sought to feed and bless wayward people who act like cats
    in many respects.

    We hiss and scratch. He
    bears the scars and so do we. We cough up fur balls after preening ourselves,
    and spit at those who invade our territory.

    Yet, the Savior loves us
    with an abiding love. Through His Word and by His Spirit, He is rounding up His
    Church so that we can purr forever in His perfect presence.God bless you.

  • Angel Ortiz

    Great video!  Incredible spiritual applications.  Wonder if God created cats to teach us about ourselves?

  • Karenselliott

    Cat video made me laugh out loud. The one guy with the lint brush …

    I think finding each person’s strongest talent(s) is critical; or at least what they enjoy doing. If you put a person on “organization” when they are better at “IT” or “statistics” – that could be a mess.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That guy cracked me up, too. I’ll bet they had fin making the video. Very creative.

  • http://www.andymcmillan.com Andy McMillan

    This is a great analogy. Thinking through how to get people on your side for ministry is important. I really like the fact that Mr. Hyatt  pointed out that the energy of the team falls on the leaders. it is easy to blame the moral of the team on the team instead of at our feet. 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I like the way Donald Miller illustrates this idea in “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” In a conversation with his friend Jason who was having teenage-daughter problems, he introduces the concept of offering a better story. If we can engage others in a better story, then we can motivate them to do greater things, to work better, to live better.

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Love that video. I may even have a cat if Michelle (my wife) and I weren’t allergic. Maybe. 

  • Lucy Ann Moll

    Every cat is different. So it is with people.

    My cat Sneakers comes running to me when I call him. He’s my dog-cat.

    Mumble is the cool cat who grew up in a hoarder’s home with 200 cats and 100 dogs. He eats and eats. Food is his love language.

    Polly is nearly 1 and all kitten. . .still. (Girls just wanna have fun.)

    The people equivalent leaders can learn: Some are teachable. Others are emotionally hurting and need special care. Still other are young and need loving instruction.

    You can read all about this — minus the cats —  in Ezekiel 34.    

    • bethanyplanton

      Great passage to go right along with this! 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Lucy, I love the way you break down your cats’ personalities and also how you apply them to people. The analogy fits. When you noted Ez. 34, I thought, “That sounds familiar.” I used that passage to illustrate the five tasks a pastor (as modeled by God the Shepherd of His people) will perform as he serves. I remember 3-4-5: In Ezekiel 3-4, God shows us the 5 tasks of a shepherd. Search for the lost, bring back the stray, bind up the wounded, heal the sick, and strengthen the weak. I taught that in a Bible school/halfway house in Russia over a decade ago. A good memory to recall. Thanks for bringing it back.–Tom

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      Nicely done.

      I have used this outlook a lot in connecting with (teaching about) children.  Every child has a different story – different background, experiences, likes, dislikes, skills, etc.  And, every child receives things differently.  When we pause long enough to learn the individual, it can make a huge difference in how we connect with them, what we expect from them, and how we lead them.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sequoiajoy Connie Brown

    Cowhands who can herd the independent-minded, with compassion and vision, those are real leaders. No sneeze.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t seen this in a few years.  I work as a project manager.  I have ZERO authoritative power. I have to pull together a team and get them going in a particular direction. I have to manage expectations of the higher powers, my peers and those below me only by influence. This is why Proj. mgmt is exactly like herding cats.  

  • http://twitter.com/dhatfield danielle hatfield

    Great post with insight on how to heard your own litter!

    I would only add a public ‘Thank You’ is often a great way to keep people motivated and passionate. Knowing that their hard work and sacrifice is valued outside of private conversations goes a long way to keep team memebers together and focused. 

  • Tomnorvell

    This (as are many of your posts) is really applicable for my work as a pastor. The cat herding illustration fits so well. Thanks for your thoughts and insights. 
    Tom Norvell

  • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

    I love the idea of “herding cats.”  It’s interesting because the same can be said for goats, which is where they differ from sheep.

    Put under pressure sheep mob together, for safety they look for unity. Goats on the other hand scatter when you try and push them into a mob. Goats are much harder to farm, much more difficult to manipulate and control.

    There are admirable qualities in both sheep and goats. The admirable communal quality of sheep and the independent thinking of goats.

  • http://twitter.com/cheetosrapper Dan Greegor

    Great post. I can see some tendencies in my own life that are cat-like. A great analogy to get the point across.

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    So true!: I often hear leaders lament, “My people just don’t care.” The truth is
    that this is a leadership problem not a people problem, and
    that makes it your problem.

    Caring is contagious! If leadership cares about the department… the individual PEOPLE, those people – in a large part – will CARE about what happens to the company… because it cares about the leadership.

    Everyone will want everyone to succeed.

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    This is SO true: I often hear leaders lament, “My people just don’t care.” The truth is
    that this is a leadership problem not a people problem, and
    that makes it your problem.

    If the leadership sincerely cares about the department – the individual PEOPLE – those same people will – in large part – really CARE about the leadership – the PEOPLE – and how the company succeeds.

    Everyone will come around to sincerely wanting EVERYONE to succeed. But it starts with a genuine caring about people.

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      Well. Weird. Posted twice. I tried to delete the first one. If you can delete it, MH, hope you will. Sorry about that. I thought I didn’t post it the first time. 

  • http://dustinstout.com Dustin W. Stout

    This is a great post Michael! I know about herding cats all too well… Try taking a bunch of teenagers paintballing. THAT is truly like herding cats! Haha!

    • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

      lol I can only imagine

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      That is definitely herding some cats.  I herded cats myself last week with many, many children, teens, and adults in Vacation Bible School!

      • http://dustinstout.com Dustin W. Stout

        That’s awesome! We haven’t started out VBS yet… can’t wait!

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        We’re having VBS this week, and it’s craziness!

        • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

          Our VBS was definitely crazy…but, incredible.  Enough so that I decided to blog about and share the excitment of the week with everyone.

          Hope your VBS, and Dustin’s, is great!

  • bethanyplanton

    Great analogy. 

  • http://twitter.com/doug_murphy Doug Murphy

    This is epic… Love it!!!

  • http://lindseynobles.com Lindsey Nobles

    My favorite part is where the guy is sitting by the fire with the lint brush.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      There are so many subtle things in this video. I catch new ones every time.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      I caught that one too – added that much more to the laughter :)

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I’ve watched it about a dozen times!

    • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

      I like the guy casually rolling up a ball of wool. It makes me think of knitting, which is so NOT cowboy ;)

  • Anonymous

    Nice post.  Just watching the video again made me laugh. I have also noticed that if you leave cats alone they will sleep or no do a whole lot until you engage them.  People are the same way.  Unless you are reminding them of commitments and timeframes they are due in, they will soon forget.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Cats are seemingly aloof. When I read this, I pictured church people. When I served as a pastor (and I know I’m not the only one who experienced this), I felt people seemed to play and work in their own little worlds–church was a hobby, not a lifestyle.

    Now I participate as a member rather than a pastor and my perspective has changed a lot. First of all, I think my attitude toward people tended toward the football fan’s attitude toward his team. The last game, whether a win or a loss, is what a fan talks about (the last Sunday’s service is the focus of a pastor). The team moves on to preparing for the next week. People leave a worship service with their own lives to live. A pastor’s passion for the lost or missions or the food pantry isn’t the people’s passion (Some, yes, but all? No!). People have a passion for their kids or their jobs or their hobbies. The pastor worries about church life. People worry about mortgages, bills, and doctor’s appointments.

    Your advice about cats–love them–works well for pastors/leaders toward those they serve. If you love them and they know it, then you can lead them.

  • http://profiles.google.com/gambill4 Beck Gambill

    Impressive analogy and amazing video!

  • http://prettysweet4815.blogspot.com/ Kristen@PrettySweet

    That is an incredible commercial. Both so hilarious and so true! Thanks for this post. I’ll be sharing it. =)

  • Anonymous

    Cat often leave a mess in the neighbors your. I know I have a neighbor who runs a cat dude ranch. People are like this too and one of the rules of the road for project management must be taking individual responsibility for each players actions. The manager or team leaders role is to communicate that when mistakes are made the focus will always be first to fix it then to address the cause with training or re-structuring the process if it’s broken.

  • Cindy

    I will be using this post in my pre-service training for our staff. Your to-the-point observations will make a perfect intro. Team building with educators is a challenge!

  • http://profiles.google.com/southernbelle886 Heather R. Asbell

    I’m not a cat person….  Leadership is tough.  I was reminded with this post how easily I personally get distracted on big and small projects.  Whether it’s the perpetual tug to email or the constant answering calls, to what the office is planning for lunch, it’s helpful to identify the distractions to minimize them and help those I lead identify their own distractions.  I can’t expect more out of those I lead than what I’m willing to exemplify.

    It’s also being reminded we are all human.  So thankful I work with people and not cats… 
    We all need affirmation and encouragement on what we are doing well.

  • Jmhardy97

    Very interesting, I was just talking to my team about this yesterday.

    Jim

  • http://darensirbough.tumblr.com Daren Sirbough

    Thanks for sharing. I think cats are more like people who you haven’t won over and Dogs are the people you have won over because you have been faithful and shown yourself faithful to the vision and to their growth.

    I definitely have been aloof at times but the times where I have come to realize that I need to buy into the vision of something is when I have seen my leader’s integrity through seasons. It gives me hope that it is not about fixing them, but by leading by example.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks for the fantastic analogy. The comparison was awesome. I loved it. I have learnt something new today.

  • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

    Cats only seem to sleep/nap 80% of the day. That isn’t true unless they are bored and unstimulated. They either love high places or low places and will gravitate to their natural comfort zone. They love sunshine. Even though they are most comfortable inside with the person they own, they are survivors and will land on their feet even falling from great heights. With no human contact, cats become feral and focus upon self much more than cats who own people. They are trainable.

    Good sales reps are trainable. They will enter the jungle to snag something so they can eat, they get bored if that is their only stimulation. They will gravitate to their own comfort zone getting lazy, approaching customers with the same pitch rather than exploring each customer to find their need. Good sales reps are survivors and will land on their feet from great heights and even while under severe attack. Sales reps think they do better on their own, but they thrive in a good environment with healthy competition and managers who will stroke them when needed, coach them past the scary parts/customers, and stimulate them to break outside the habit/comfort zone.

    Some Christians today are taking napping to new heights. Some are in comas. Some are bored without realizing why. On the other hand, I see a lot of Christians who are back in the saddle every morning racing through Christian living making it look easy when it is the hardest thing to do. We suffer scratches daily. We gravitate to our comfort zone, we get caught in sunbeams and settle into them with a lethargy that makes Satan jump in joy. We fall from great heights and only land on our feet because God is our safety net, but why is it we don’t immediately give Him the glory?

  • Anonymous

    We just moved to http://www.teamworkpm.net for all of our project management, and it has revolutionized our business.  We have tried basecamp, goplanapp, activecollab, and nozbe.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I will have to check it out. Thanks.

  • Katherine Hyde

    Cats also respond to food. Don’t underestimate the power of tangible rewards. :)

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      True.  I tend to always offer food when people do something that seems above and beyond (especially if it is near meal-time).  My thought…if they are going to take care of me, I am going to take care of them.

      As well, it never fails, offer free food and people will come out of the woodworks chomping at the bit to get some.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I love free food…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent point!

  • http://www.extremejohn.com Extreme John

    Great logic! I love the video! What it has shown is just what it ought to convey to the viewers– how good leadership and excellent project management can yield fascinating results. One more thing about cats is that they love being fed. So if we cater the team well as a leader, this would create better cooperation which would lessen or prevent difficulties along the way. 

  • http://alexspeaks.com Alex Humphrey

    This encourages me a lot. I’m building a coaching business and remembering that “We can do more together than a part” will probably help me a lot as I work to help others work through their finances

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    Great thoughts!  I love the connection with “herding cats”.

    I am working on a post where I am using the same idea of “herding cats” in talking about managing chaos.  It is based on the chaos that comes with a Vacation Bible School with 750 children and 300 teen and adult volunteers – not to mention the hundreds of parents dropping off and picking up children.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Now THAT is chaos!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        No kidding!  Have you been following his blog on this experience?  It’s been incredible to read!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I’m afraid I haven’t.

  • http://www.tillhecomes.org Jeremy Myers

    I can herd cats with a shake of the cat treat food box. 
    So…. donuts and coffee for project management?

    • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

      But both have to be pre trained to that response. For some people the manager bring donuts and coffee is a sign of pending doom.

  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    As a Project Manager and cat mum I think this is so true. I like :)

    Here’s another one:

    Cats need space – Micromanaging rarely succeeds in the workplace and even rarer with cats. Cats have their own minds. They like to do their thing at their own time and in their own space. Even in the middle of the best tummy rub a cat will suddenly get up and wonder away. As a Project Manager your role is one of leadership through influence rather than leadership through position. This can make it much more difficult to herd the cats / staff into the place where they should go. Particularly for those cats who don’t like cat nip.

  • http://twitter.com/CoachResultsNow Martin Longden

    EDS and the airplane is a great analogy for our department … business as usual and delivering on improvements in our project is like that AND herding cats. Thanks for the post Mike!

  • http://twitter.com/CoachResultsNow Martin Longden

    The airplane analogy reminds me of our department and how we are running business as usual and delivering on improvements with our project at the same time … including the cats. Thanks for the post Mike!

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  • Jan beery

    If you’ve ever worked in the health care industry, it is exactly like herding cats! 
    1. Physicians are solitary animals2. Physicians are seemingly aloof3. Physicians are easily distracted

    Love this! Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    Yep,  know the hand that feeds you.

    Sometimes the gift is a geniune attempt to help ease the pain of change. I only started drinking coffee when I led one particular project and was regularly bringing in coffee for the team while they went through the extra workload of learning new things while maintaining normal productivity levels. The coffee was much appreciated.

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  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    A friend of mine once wrote a book called Herding Cats.  Great stuff, and so applicable to the church.  Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/kbkcomm Katie Fassl

    Great post, Michael.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “This is like herding cats,” in the last week.  I have a client who is really easily distracted, so #3 really resonated with me.  I need to take a good, hard look in the mirror and focus more :).

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