Are You Orbiting the Giant Hairball?

I recently interviewed someone for an interactive job, and he told me his ideal job would be 80 percent strategy and 20 percent tactical. I chuckled and asked how he’d feel if those numbers were reversed. The truth is, whatever field you’re in, there’s a good chance that you spend most of your time reacting to the latest crises and requests rather than sitting back and shaping strategies. But I’m a big believer in finding purpose and enjoyment in your work, and for me that includes being as creative as possible.

To re-charge my creative batteries this summer, I’m going to re-read a book I read several years called Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace,” by Gordon MacKenzie. This is not just a book for people in the corporate world — it could just as easily be titled “how to be creative in any environment.” MacKenzie writes about his 30 years working for Hallmark Cards, where he learned that even innovative organizations can become giant “hairballs” — with a big mess of rules, traditions, and systems that stifle creativity. MacKenzie found ways to cope, and inspired many of his colleagues to orbit around the hairball instead of getting sucked in. First published in 1998, the book is fun, irreverent, and funny, with lots of illustrations and anecdotes.

We can all benefit from more creativity in the workplace. Read this book, and you’ll find ways to improve your attitude, satisfaction, and performance. What books have inspired you in this way?

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