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


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Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace + The Nibble Theory and the Kernel of Power: A Book About Leadership, Self-Empowerment, and Personal Growth + How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1 edition (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670879835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670879830
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

There is no denying the creativity of someone who can persuade one of the 50 largest private companies in the U.S. to create a position for him called "creative paradox," or someone who can convince the accounting department of that same company to write off to the company art collection the purchase of more than a dozen roll-top desks to be used in his "creative lab," or someone who could come up with such a goofy title for a book. MacKenzie worked for the Hallmark greeting card company for 30 years, first as a sketch artist and eventually as an upper-level manager, until he escaped the "hairball" by creating his own niche. A corporate hairball is an entangled pattern of behavior or a mess of bureaucratic procedure that discourages originality and stifles imagination. A consultant for the last seven years, MacKenzie tells what he knows about creativity and what he learned about the creative process in a corporate setting. David Rouse

More About the Author

Gordon MacKenzie is the author of North Light's bestselling watercolour book, The Watercolorist's Essential Notebook. He has been a popular artist and teacher for more than 30 years and has mounted more than 25 solo exhibitions. His work hangs in many private and corporate collections and has been featured in magazines.

Customer Reviews

Thank you for the guide book, Gordon.
YowzaPhil
The author does an excellent job or describing creative ways to survive and even prosper in most corporate cultures.
Milan Radulovich
The book is a quick read, and a fun book to read.
Henry Cate III

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book deserves more than five stars.
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. You need more of the former and less of the latter.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By gencus on April 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
OK, Here's the review:

Buy this book and take it's message to heart. I have purchased and given this book more times than I can count to people in all levels of business, and to friends who are at crossroads in their lives. I have seen some reviews here which take issue with the fact that the author's message is too far ahead of it's time, won't fly within the gridwork of a conformist corporate culture, or that the message is inaccessable due to the book's apparent lack of structure.

Well, the message and how it's presented are kind of the point, not the problem.

If the message won't fly in a particular company culture, the problem is within the culture. Those groups need to pay attention more than any other, because they stand to gain the most. The perspective offered here is unique and invaluable. It applies to more than the immediate situation, not just to surviving a job at Hallmark, or any job, for that matter, but can be applied to any aspect of life. If you are in business today, you can apply the lesson given here. If you are a CEO and think that workers are drones who need your company more than it needs them, accept the moral initiative given by this book and learn why change is good, both economically and sprititually. If you are a humble worker bee and are saddened by your present position, use this book as a springboard to give you the initiative you need to find a better place, one away from the CEOs who haven't read this book. That would probably make Gordon smile.

This book is all those things that have already been said about it: it's loopy, zany, wise, generous, playful, full of heart, loaded with quirky illustrations, and stuffed to the gills with genuine spirit.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Gordon MacKenzie changed my life. He truly lived by the principles in his book. He didn't just seek out the most visible idea people or those whose external appearances trumpeted that they were creative. His book is not just talk. I know because I was one of those shy little nobodies whom Gordon sought out and encouraged. I am sorry to say for those of you who don't know, that Gordon passed away on July 26, 1999.
Here is the passage that was on his funeral leaflet: "You have a masterpiece inside you, too, you know. One unlike any that has ever been created, or ever will be. And remember: If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. Only you."
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Donald E. Ingram on December 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Gordon's book is listed as a rave for business anywhere. I would say, that it should be in the hip pocket of every teacher and educator in the world.
If our education system would use this book as a guideline, we would not have to write this way for business. In our world we seem to always work at fixing things when they are broken and not working on the Source. To use this book in business is addressing a secondary manifestation.
If we were to follow his book, chapter by chapter, the children would grow in their creative genius, and the business world would automatically be fixed. I loved the story of how the chickens were mesmerized and if ever we need to free our schools from keeping the children's beaks on a chalk line on the porch, it is now.
I cannot say enough; from the question at the beginning about, how may of you are artists? to the end where we are given the challenge to paint our own masterpiece...each anecdote, speaks loudly, nay, shouts to every person in a classroom to open the containers and let the minds find their creative genius.
If this book were on every teacher's desk, and more importantly in the cellular understanding of each educator, there would be no articles in any paper about how schools are failing.
Gordon, if you are watching and listening....you created a legacy that will not be forgotten...Thank you.
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