Belinda's Bash

Belinda Naylor-Stables

Thinking outside the cat flap

‘Thinking outside the box’ doesn’t give you a context. Whereas, thinking outside the cat flap gives you all the agility of a cat on familiar territory… with the reassuring ability to nip back in for home comforts if required.

My cat flap is in the side of the conservatory. I don’t have a cat so I may as well use it myself – well, not physically, but certainly the idea of it. Theoretically, thinking outside the cat flap should give me the ability to scale roofs for a wide-angle and distant view, to see things from mid-height such as the conservatory roof or fence height and also forage close up at ground level amidst grasses and roots. It gives me night vision to see into dark recesses, whiskers so I can sense safety and nine lives so that I can ignore safety too. This is a new approach for me, so let’s explore it some more...

Thinking on different levels
Thinking outside the cat flap

"I squeezed through OK - but my trainers got stuck..."

Thinking outside the cat flap gives you a cat-like persona, able to view your territory from rooftops to ground level and anywhere in between. I’m not aware that anyone else has had this idea – my apologies if I am stepping on any paws. What I do know is that this is not dissimilar from a key idea in a book called Visual Teams by David Sibbet (John Wiley & Sons, 2011). David Sibbet started the idea of Business Visualisers – people who draw purposefully during meetings to create a visual record - rather than wordy minutes. These drawings can be as big as a mural  or made up of small Post-Its. Whatever form they take David Sibbet says “It’s a key to our imagination of possibilities”.

He suggests: “Map intuitive realities – purpose, intention, attitudes, awareness – toward the top of the chart. Point at these words with lines suggesting auras…”

Just below the top level he includes “…emotional, experiential realities – feelings and movement – use colour and the movement of the lines on the chart.”

Below that – “…concepts and ideas, using words, numbers, or images, map those in 2-D, using talk balloons, charts and flat graphics.

Then – “When you record people who are talking about tangible, physical things, draw pictures of those things in 3-D and map them towards the bottom.”

Strangely, if you look the paintings of Renaissance masters, or story telling paintings such as those of Chagall, they often apply a similar approach - though they do it without the more modern conventions of words, numbers or speech bubbles. For example,they  put angels, halowed saints, cherubim - the  more spiritual elements - towards the top of their pictures.

Emotional realities such as Jesus on the cross, or St Sebastian porcupined with arrows are often in the middle ground.

Quite often the earth-bound personalities, such as the donors who paid for the paintings, or the devil who was banished from heaven, and everyday elements such as hills and houses, are towards the bottom of the picture.

Take your cat flap to the unknown

What happens if you take your cat flap to unfamiliar places? For example, put your cat flap on a spaceship, on a long distance lorry, in an army tank, on your marketing stand, at the hospital, in the bank, in your PC, on a sailing dinghy, on a submarine… What happens to the levels then? When you add the agility and playfulness of the cat to your thinking experience it seems to me thinking outside the cat flap has more potential than thinking out of the box.

For cat lovers everywhere - no animals were harmed in the production of this article.

Any thoughts?