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Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace Hardcover – 1 Dec 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking/Allen Lane (Dec. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670879835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670879830
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 18.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Amazon Review

Creativity is crucial to business success. But too often, even the most innovative organisation quickly becomes a "giant hairball"--a tangled, impenetrable mass of rules, traditions and systems, all based on what worked in the past--that exercises an inexorable pull into mediocrity. Gordon McKenzie worked at Hallmark Cards for 30 years, many of which he spent inspiring his colleagues to slip the bonds of Corporate Normalcy and rise to orbit--to a mode of dreaming, daring and doing above and beyond the rubber-stamp confines of the administrative mind-set. In his deeply funny book, exuberantly illustrated in full colour, he shares the story of his own professional evolution, together with lessons on awakening and fostering creative genius.

Originally self-published and already a business "cult classic", this personally empowering and entertaining look at the crossroads between human creativity and the bottom line is now widely available. It will be a must- read for any manager looking for new ways to invigorate employees and any professional who wants to achieve his or her best, most self-expressive, most creative and fulfilling work. --Amazon.com

From the Back Cover

Gordon MacKenzie worked at Hallmark Cards for thirty years, where he inspired his colleagues to slip the bonds of Corporate Normalcy and rise to orbit - to a mode of dreaming, daring, and doing above and beyond the rubber-stamp confines of the administrative mind-set. In his deeply funny book, exuberantly illustrated in full color, he shares lessons on awakening and fostering creative genius. He teaches how to emerge from the "giant hairball" - that tangled, impenetrable mass of rules, and systems, based on what worked in the past and which can lead to mediocrity in the present.

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
ORBITING THE GIANT HAIRBALL: A Corporate Fool's Guide To Surviving With Grace, by Gordon MacKenzie
"You are an artist, you can paint your masterpiece," is the premise of this book, which is fast attaining cult status in the United States. Gordon Mackenzie spent 30 years at Hallmark Cards, finally rejoicing in the job title of Creative Paradox. Packed with cartoons and drawings, this is a book you will either love or hate. It focuses on how to retain your creativity in the corporate world. But what about the title?
* The Giant Hairball
This is the corporation. Policies and practices are laid down by generation after generation. Far from making things simpler, this creates a Giant Hairball. Creative people find themselves stuck in this web, where 'command and control' managers try to discover new ways to get the best from their people. Hairballs are a fact of life, however, so you can choose to join one or, taking your life in your hands, you can go freelance.
* The Need For 'Orbiting'.
This is your creative contribution. Joining a company, you have three choices:
a) You can do your own thing and rocket off into outer space.
b) You can wait and expect managers to manage your contribution. (Forget it. Even the best managers find it hard to manage creative people who, by their very nature, yearn to find new ways around the system.)
c) You can choose to 'Orbit' around the hairball. How? You can keep making clear contracts with your key sponsors about how you want to make your best contribution to the company.
Life is a Peach, believes Gordon MacKenzie. Nostalgically looking back over the years, he remembers the taste of fluffy peaches. Biting into their juiciness brought an almost orgasmic feeling.
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By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
Orbiting the Giant Hairball deserves more than five stars for the potential benefits it brings to all who read and apply it.
Although I have read many excellent books about nurturing creativity and working creatively in companies, this is the first book I have read where the author has been someone who has done that repeatedly and in a variety of ways. That perspective is uniquely valuable both to those who want to have more creative jobs and those who would like to encourage creativity.
Although the analogies seem far-fetched at first (orbiting the giant hairball means taking a creative tangent and refocusing it to have relevance for the company's purpose), they serve to open your mind to thinking differently about creativity and organizations.
Although the author's key points are not summarized anywhere in the book, you will begin to get a sense of how the ideas connect together. That's useful, because otherwise why should he try to teach us so much? Except in the chapter that deals with them, any of the key observations would have been enough for a whole book on the subject. The overall theme is that our minds are subject to being too quickly anesthetized, rather than stimulated to ground-breaking insights. You'll love the story about hypnotizing hens where he introduces that concept.
One of my favorite stories in the book described when the author was asked to create an introductory course on creativity. The first session was wildly successful. The author then analyzed why it worked and created a more organized version of this course (called Grope). That sesssion didn't work as well. Then he went back to being unstructured (operating at the edge of chaos), and the course worked again. He learned from this the delicate connection between groping and rote.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderfully inspiring and entertaining book. For those who are championing innovation and originality in large organizations in times of cost reduction and market downturn this book provides hope and tactics. Full of learning experiences from Gordon's years at Hallmark and insights into how we might apply these. I am on to my third copy of this book having given earlier copies to colleagues who have since gone into orbit!
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Format: Hardcover
Not only have I read Gordon MacKenzie's "Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace", but I have also had the pleasure of interviewing the author for a newsletter piece and attending one of his workshops (better described as "performances").
The book is generally seen as "humor", even though book stores may display it in their business section. It could just as well be classified under "philosophy", however. Its message is a mix of the funny and the profound, examplified by the last chapter: "Paint Me A Masterpiece", which starts with God dispensing you at birth with a canvas rolled under your arm and the request to "paint a masterpiece for me", and ends with the writer's reflections on his now-abandoned doubts about his own talent, his current use of the wider brush, the Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue, and this reminder to you: "If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. Only you."
The book is a written form of the workshops Gordon MacKenzie has been teaching since 1991. Workshops on maintaining creativity within bureaucratic environments. If Corporate America is to be the place that beckons us each day, that we long to go to every morning and leave fulfilled every afternoon, it had better get a grip on its hairballs, discard them and let its work places be filled with the creativity Gordon MacKenzie encourages us to reclaim.
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