Orbiting the Giant Hairball | Gordon MacKenzie

Summary of: Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace
By: Gordon MacKenzie


Immerse yourself in ‘Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace’ by Gordon MacKenzie, where you will be taken on a journey of recognizing and reclaiming your inherent creative genius. This book sheds light on how we are born with a natural tendency towards exploration and creativity but get gradually suppressed by societal norms and expectations. The corporate world, represented by the ‘giant hairball,’ is filled with rules and policies that stifle creativity in favor of ‘normalcy.’ As you delve deeper into the book summary, discover the importance of orbiting around these norms and maintaining a critical distance to unleash your full creative potential and thrive within a corporate culture without being held back.

Embrace Your Creative Genius

Every person is born a creative genius, but society’s fear of unpredictable rule-breakers oppresses it. Embracing our “foolishness” and breaking away from societal norms will unleash our full potential.

Do you identify as an artist? You might think that being creative means making paintings or writing poetry. However, the truth is that every single one of us is born with creative genius. Remember when you were a child, making rash decisions and diving spontaneously into risky situations driven purely by curiosity and innocent desire? These tendencies are an expression of creative genius and are present within every person. Unfortunately, society sees “fools” as impulsive, unpredictable rule-breakers and enforces strict social norms to protect itself from this unpredictability. As a result, people stifle their creativity in an attempt to conform.

Children are a perfect example of the suppression of creativity. As they grow older, they begin to shed their identity as artists and embrace the notion of “normalcy.” However, we can break open the full potential of our creative genius by standing up to societal rules and embracing our “foolishness.” It’s time to stop aiming for normalcy and start exploring our inner artist.

Corporate Hairballs

Hallmark, the famous greeting card manufacturer, is an example of a massive corporate hairball. The collection of policies and procedures that make up a corporate hairball is the norm rather than the exception. As more layers of guidelines, standards, and procedures are added, the pull towards it becomes more powerful. The chapter explores the impact of hairballs on people who work in corporations. It debates whether there is any comfort in being part of a giant corporate hairball and possible downsides.

Responsible Creativity: Navigating the Hairball

Creating something truly original and unobstructed by guidelines is the essence of creativity. However, companies and old ways of doing things can often get in the way. In his time at Hallmark, the author learned that to truly create, you need to avoid getting tangled in the hairball of old rules and practices. Responsible creativity involves straying from the standard corporate path, but not too far. It’s about finding your personal sweet spot and orbiting around the hairball, engaging with it critically but not getting sucked in by its uncreative procedures and bureaucracy. For the author, this meant transferring to the Contemporary Design Department, Hallmark’s crazy stepchild, where he could be more creative and work with a team that valued freedom, chaos, and playfulness.

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