I am currently reading a great ‘little’ book with big insights. It was given to me by my colleague Barrie with a, “you simply have to read this” dictum that I dare not ignore. Written by Gordon Mackensie the book’s title is somewhat intriguing: ‘Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace’ (Viking Penguin, 1998).
Mackensie worked at Hallmark Cards for thirty years and in this book he deals with breaking the bonds of normally and awakening, releasing and fostering the creative genius within. The ‘Giant Hairball’? you ask: It is that corporate entanglement of the ‘impenetrable mass of rules, and systems, based on what worked in the past and which can lead to mediocrity in the present’. It is that thing that you go to every working day that has perfected the process of sucking all creativity out of you – a process started when still at school where lessons in conformity and normality began.
I like Mackensie’s approach as I so often hear corporates with whom I engage glibly speak about the need of be ‘innovative’. Speaking the talk but I suspect a long way from practicing the reality of what it really means to be creative. In fact ‘being innovative’ has become a hollow business mantra that means little in the face of suffocating rules and policies designed to regulate, normalize, and standardize the personalized customer experience! Such irony smacks louder than (fill in your own metaphor here as an act of creativity). The other day I even heard of standardized computer screen savers urging each and every employee to ‘be creative’!
Let me leave you with some words from Orbiting the Giant Hairball:
Civilization also has a limited perception of Infinite Reality. And with a haughty self-assurance, it imposes that perception on us until we think that it is our own. The same is true of companies we work for. They have their perception of reality and they impose them on us. As a result, we are wrapped in a cocoon of realities perceived by others who came before us. It is a cocoon that gives us a sense of emotional security through connection to a shared belief. But it is also a shroud that binds and cripples us as surely as the ancient social abuse of binding Chinese women’s feet crippled them.
There will be more to come by way of blog posts from this Hairball!