Thursday, May 14, 2009

orbiting the giant hairball

This is my favorite inspirational book. It is full of funny doodles and smart thinking. When I am lacking creative genius, this book puts my mind back on track. Really go get it! You will entertained and delighted with your purchase.

Fast Company Decemeber 1997:

Gordon MacKenzie has a peculiar prescription for succeeding in the corporate world: "Orbit the giant hairball." It's a message that's easier to swallow when you consider his 30-year career as a creative revolutionary at Hallmark, the $3.6 billion company known for its creativity.

And it's one he's broadcasting beyond the cardmaker's Kansas City campus: he self-published his book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace, in 1996, and Viking will republish it in April. MacKenzie describes the work as "a liberation manual for the chronically entangled and the relentlessly oppressed." It's also an apt description of his career at Hallmark.

So, why do you compare a company to a giant hairball?

A hairball is an entangled pattern of behavior. It's bureaucracy, which doesn't allow much space for original thinking and creativity. It's the corporate tendency to rely on past policies, decisions, and processes as a formula for future success.

All of this creates a Gordian knot of corporate normalcy -- an entanglement that grows over time. As its mass increases, so does its gravitational pull. And what does gravity do? It drags things down. But hairballs can be effective. They provide a necessary stability. It's not the job of the hairball to be vibrant, alive, and creative.

What is the biggest obstacle to creativity?

Attachment to outcome. As soon as you become attached to a specific outcome, you feel compelled to control and manipulate what you're doing. And in the process you shut yourself off to other possibilities.

I got a call from someone who wanted me to lead a workshop on creativity. He needed to tell his management exactly what tools people would come away with. I told him I didn't know. I couldn't give him a promise, because then I'd become attached to an outcome -- which would defeat the purpose of any creative workshop.

It's hard for corporations to understand that creativity is not just about succeeding. It's about experimenting and discovering.

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buy the book "orbiting the giant hairball"

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