Friday, May 25, 2007

Orbiting the Giant Hairball

What a delightful book! You have to read this - if you interested in fostering creativity within a corporation.

The author is Gordon McKenzie, who worked for Hallmark Cards (the main greeting card company here in the US) for 30 years. His last title at the company was ‘Creative Paradox’.

The main point in his book is that corporations come into existence through the creativity of their founders, but subsequently start to become stratified and ossified because of the need to do things ‘that we know work’, thereby discouraging creativity.

The bias against creativity does not just exist in large corporations. I particularly liked his story about asking school children in different grades how many thought they were artists. Invariably, the older the kids, they less hands would go up. They have been taught that they were not creative, or that being creative is not ‘normal’.

The giant hairball is his analogy for the corporate body with all the rules and regulations, and his prescription is to know how to keep within the orbit of the corporation without being absorbed and suffocated into the main mass. Another useful analogy is how when water-skiing, you do not need to follow directly in the wake of the boat, but can at times move in an arc around the back of the boat, or even sometimes get ahead of the boat.

This is a small book full of gems! I highly recommend it.

Here is a quote I really like:

“If we do not let go, we make prisoners of ourselves”

The book’s subtitle is: “A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace.” So, go ahead and read it. You too can become a Corporate Fool J.

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