Promote Orbiting of the CU Hairball

This entry was posted by Tuesday, 28 September, 2010
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I re-read “Orbiting the Giant Hairball” by Gordon MacKenzie recently.  This book is about how to think outside the box without getting sucked into the politics and ‘norm’ of your organization.  A must-read in my opinion (and a must re-read!).

In an interview with Fast Company MacKenzie defined the corporate hairball as:

“An entangled pattern of behavior. It’s a bureaucracy, which doesn’t allow much space for original thinking and creativity. It’s the corporate tendency to rely on past policies, decisions, and processes as a formula for future success.”

Brilliant! A free-pass of empowerment to your own ideas and the ability to share them with leaders of the organization to grow, modernize, and revolutionize it!!… If only it were that easy.

In Courtney’s post about culture, we find that there are two thoughts, a culture of fear and one of love. It seems only natural that those who work in a culture of love will be more apt and able to orbit the political hairball of your credit union.

It’s not that the hairball is an unnecessary element in the workplace; each organization needs a strong foundation to rely on. There is also a necessity for change, and that is very difficult in an established workplace. People shy away from change, it’s difficult to learn new things, try new elements (what if it fails – GASP!), and change long-lasting procedure that has been on the books since Reagan was in office. But change is the essence of life. Without progress (which is change, nonetheless) we cannot move forward. Who do we look to for bringing evolution into the CU industry?

Credit union folks are sharp. Anyone in the industry has the ability to unlock the next ‘big thing’, what goes awry is their fear regarding thinking outside of the box, orbiting that giant hairball of bureaucracy, stagnant ideas and old policy. Many people feel that bringing new ideas to the table is a waste of time thinking “why would they change this for my ‘out there’ idea, what if it doesn’t work? Will I get fired? …I should just keep my mouth shut”.  And boom, another brilliant idea lost to the hairball.

What can you do? Praise creativity! You may not know it, but there’s a very bright light bulb in your staff just waiting to be turned on. Make sure you don’t bypass this opportunity by cutting the power before it gets a chance to shine. In the words of Gordon MacKenzie:

“It’s hard for corporations to understand that creativity is not just about succeeding. It’s about experimenting and discovering.”

2 Responses to “Promote Orbiting of the CU Hairball”

  1. Brings to mind another comment that I heard a few months ago also referencing change – it brought in a phrase that we hear over and over again: “the way we’ve always done it” was new once.

  2. Jim Craig

    Thanks for the reminder of a great book. I was given a copy by Denise Wymore ages ago and loved it. I’m going to get it off the shelf now and re-read it. What you say is very true. You may not be able to enact every idea given to you, but there is no reason to not show appreciation for the thought and energy given to you by the person(s) who shared it with you…keep them orbiting!


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