The Cat’s on the Roof Technique
I was talking to someone recently that had to announce something new to his team that he felt would be “perceived” as bad. However, he also felt confident that it would lead to some great things afterward. He was concerned about the initial perception and anticipated pushback. He believed that this would keep the team from moving forward to implement the changes. I listened to his ideas and I agreed. There would be pushback AND it was the smart move. So, I told him to use the Cat’s on the Roof technique. He asked me what that was, so I shared this story with him:
The Cat’s on the Roof Technique
There were two brothers and one was going to take a vacation. So, the brother says to the other brother “can you look after my cat while I’m on vacation?” And the other brother says, “sure no problem.” A week later the brother comes back from vacation and says “how’s the cat?” And the other brother says “oh, sorry man, the cat’s dead.” The brother says “what?!” The other brother says, “yeah sorry, the cat died.” Then the brother says, “are you kidding me, man, you don’t just spring that on somebody!” The other brother says “how should I have done it?” The brother said, “I don’t know, prepare me a little, tell me ‘the cat was on the roof, and you walked out and saw it, it started sliding, you ran over to get it but you didn’t make it in time. You then took the cat to the vet to try to save it and then after that – you can say “I’m really sorry but your cat passed away. That’s the way you prepare somebody.” The other brother says, “got it, I understand now.”
Then the first brother changes the subject and asks, “How’s mom?” The other brother says “well, mom was on the roof.”
Change for innovation
People hate surprises they perceive to be negative. Change has elements of surprise to it. Even when people say they want to change they often don’t react well. When the change happens, they will often say something like, “yea I wanted to change but I didn’t think it would look like that!” Change scares people, even when it’s change that can lead to something better.
I have found the “Cat’s on the Roof Technique” is an excellent method you can use to transition people over time to something new. Don’t just spring change on people if you can avoid it. Do it with a lot of communication, gradually, over time.
9 thoughts on “The Cat’s on the Roof Technique”
Dr. Misner, you are genuinely brilliant! Thank you for your constant uplifting and powerful reminders! So thankful to be a part of this incredible network! God Bless you and yours.
Change for innovation will be the best way!!!Thanks for cat on the roof story!!!
I love the story perfect timing to remind us in this challenging time
Nice way to communicate
Communication is such an underrated skill. I will keep this story in mind, thank you!
That was really funny! And I understand what you mean.
I learned good thing in the story. Thanks Dr. Misner. Only change never changes in the world, face the change and use the excellent method to care about people.
Completely unrelated: how do you feel about people you catch trying to manipulate you?
It’s a lesson in storytelling more than change management. You have demonstrated how to convey a message with a story so well. We need to convey the change many times and it doesn’t get accepted if just spill the beans. Thanks for sharing this concept of the cat is on the roof.