By Gordon MacKenzie
Books on corporate creativity mostly leave me cold. Spouting tired clichés about “out of box” thinking don’t do much more than repackage truisms. I was thusly wary when my book club picked Orbiting the Giant Hairball this month.
But thanks to Viking Press, Orbiting is bursting with quirky hand-drawn illustrations, many of them printed in brilliant colors. Text fonts vary for emphasis, and the book itself is a work of art — one that I found immensely enjoyable to read. The author, Gordon MacKenzie, is a former Hallmark Card executive and his message is an important one: Corporate hairballs are the entangled patterns of behavior and bureaucratic policies and procedures that create Corporate Normalcy and stifle creativity and imagination.
Rather than fight the hairball, MacKenzie proposes that we orbit around it, exploring ways to operate creatively while maintaining the spirit of the corporate mission. He uses each chapter to tell a parable from his career at Hallmark, and elsewhere, which illustrates “responsible creativity.”
Mind you, Orbiting is not a how-to manual about creativity. It is a series of offbeat, inspirational stories that show us how to survive working in hairball-bound organizations by rising above the mundane where ideas flourish. Don’t miss it.