Book review: Orbiting the giant hairball

Gordon Mackenzie spent 20 years working for Hallmark, and his experiences there have enabled him to write what he calls “a corporate fools guide to surviving with grace“. There’s no doubt that Gordon is a free spirit, and here he shares the mindset and that allowed him to survive and prosper in a large, conservative organization. That’s how he came up with the mental image of the corporate hairball – a disgusting but instructive metaphor…

This hairball comprises all the red tape, all the hidden assumptions, all the unavoidable history and entangled bureaucracy of any organization. The author describes how to “orbit the hairball”; keep so much momentum that you don’t get sucked into the hairball, but not so much that you tear yourself away from it altogether.

The book itself is short, and most of it’s knowledge is communicated through some great anecdotes, and some even better drawings by the author (he did work on greeting cards fopr a long time after all). So the book is big on story, short on theory. And it works perfectly. This is a happy book!

To me, the central insight of the book, is that Gordon MacKenzie is not afraid of being a fool – and that this is how he achieves many of his successes. So people laugh at him and his ideas – that’s fine with him. Reading this book certainly put a huge smile on my face.

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