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Cat Dog School of Management

Know your innovators and managers

en I see people at work (or society, for that matter) I see primarily two kinds of personalities, Cats and Dogs

A tremendous amount of work has been done in the past to define and categorize people at work place in terms of their specific personality traits (Myers-Briggs, Hartman personality profile, etc.). The underlying purpose of this categorization is to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of personality types, to understand inherent strengths and weaknesses of each person, and to form teams with the right mix of personality types with the intent of maximizing productivity

Talk to someone who has a cat and a dog at home, or just observe a cat and a dog for a few minutes and their diametrically opposed personalities will be clearly obvious

I saw a sign somewhere ‘Dog has an owner: Cat has a staff’

Cat is over curious, free thinker, confident, independent, wild hunter at heart, with bit of an attitude. Dog is overly social, dependent, needy, easily trainable, lives to please, loyal for life

Now look around at your work place. Everyone that you see can be roughly classified as a Dog or a Cat. Off course no one is 100% cat or a dog, and people often evolve with age, experiences and knowledge, however, the dominant side of the personality remains as such for life. Age, experience and maturity can sometimes transition a Cat into a Dog or at least into a doggish Cat. This transition is strictly one way. You will never see a Dog transitioning with age into or towards a Cat

Cats are right brain, creative, critical, risk takers, and thrive in uncertainty. Dogs are left brain, hard working, productive, law abiding, and dread uncertainty.

Cats work to live, seek means of entertainment at work, and use humor and fun to kill stress. Dogs live to work, take work very seriously, and consider work stress a normal part of life

Cats cannot handle routine work, and find repeated tasks boring and suffocating. Dogs thrive in routine work and find repeated tasks within fixed formats relaxing

Cats cannot handle numbers and data, and need to see it in visual chart or graphical formats. Dogs can spend hours going through numbers and data without getting bored

Cats have an eye for gaps, inconsistencies and problems in the systems, and find creative ways to fix them. Dogs try to maximize productivity within the confines of a given system

Cats are visionaries and entrepreneurs, and need Dogs to plan, manage and implement the vision

Put Cats in a brainstorming session, and out of the box idea bucket will over flow. However, ideas won’t go anywhere without the managerial, planning and implementation skills of Dogs. Put Dogs in the room and all ideas will circle around existing paradigms and capacities

Cats tend to move around from company to company. Either they get bored of the job and leave, or find it difficult to adjust and adapt to the company values and culture. This moving around expands their mental horizons, increases the breadth of experiences and they acquire a vast professional network in the industry. Dogs, on the other hand, adjust themselves to the shape of the organization and relish their loyalty with the company and tend to stay at a job for long periods of time. Their long tenure allows them depth of knowledge about the company and the technology, but limits their professional acumen to a narrow band of technologies and subject matters. Cats know something about everything, Dogs know everything about something

Cats make good entrepreneurs, CEO’s, researchers and product developers. Dogs are good bankers, statisticians, lawyers and teachers

Cats naturally thrive in roles like entrepreneurs, CEOs, research & development, innovation, marketing, and promotions. Dogs are most productive in functions like quality assurance, finance, sales, manufacturing, regulatory and legal

So what does this all mean?

How can this information help managers manage themselves and their teams better? Here are a few points to consider

– Have a general understanding of the Cats and Dogs in the organization. It will be easier to communicate with them if you understand what inspires them and how and where to utilize their skills and strengths

– When forming multifunctional teams, make sure that there is a good balance of Cats and Dogs

– Cat-heavy teams will generate ideas but will be chaotic and will accomplish little at the end. Dog-heavy teams will lack creativity and forward thinking, but tasks will be managed and implemented well

– Projects related to innovation, problem solving and continuous improvement should be led by Cats, but facilitated and supported by Dogs for follow up and implementation

– Quality Assurance, finance, operations and legal teams should be led and staffed by dogs. All project managers should be Dogs

I need to remind the readers that these are only general guidelines, there will always be exceptions, human beings are too complicated and diverse in nature to be bucketed in to columns like this. So each and every individual should be treated as a special person and with respect and dignity. Classifications like this should never be used to shut anyone down or to exclude someone, but only to maximize one’s potential, forming better teams, fostering better team work and thus enhancing job satisfaction at the work place.

Go home, look at a cat and a dog and tell us who you are, a Cat or a Dog

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