A Perfect Mess : The Hidden Benefits of Disorder--How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place
"An engaging polemic against the neat-police who hold so much sway over our lives." -The Wall Street Journal
Enthusiastically embraced by readers everywhere, this groundbreaking book is an antidote to the accepted wisdom that tight schedules, neatness, and consistency are the keys to success.
With an astounding array of anecdotes and case studies of the useful role mess can play in business, parenting, cooking, the war on terrorism, hardware stores, and even the meteoric career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, coauthors Abrahamson and Freedman demonstrate that moderately messy systems use resources more efficiently, yield better solutions, and are harder to break than neat ones. From clutter to time sprawl to blurring of categories, A PERFECT MESS will forever change the way we think about disorder.
"A compelling and comical tour of humanity's guilt-ridden love affair with accidents, messes, and randomness... Combine the world-is-not-as-it-seems mindset of Freakonomics with the delicious celebration of popular culture found in Everything Bad Is Good for You to get the cocktail-party-chatter-ready anecdotes of 'messiness leading to genius' in A PERFECT MESS." -Fast Company
The premise of this pop business book should generate reader goodwill--who won't appreciate being told that her messy desk is "perfect"? But despite their convincing defense of sloppy workstations, Columbia management professor Abrahamson (Change Without Pain) and author Freedman (Corps Business, etc.) squander their reader's indulgence by the end. Their thesis is solid enough: that organizational efforts tend to close off systems to random, unplanned influences that might lead to breakthroughs. But too many of the book's vaguely counterintuitive examples--to cite just one, that Ultimate Fighting is actually less injurious than boxing--stray from the central theme, giving their argument a shapeless, meandering feel. The authors prefer sprawling Los Angeles to fastidiously designed Paris and natural landscaping to lawns, decry clutter consultants, tight scheduling and "the bias towards neatness programmed into most of us." Noting that "organizations can be messy in highly useful ways," they urge companies to scrap long-term strategic planning, make contracts flexible and relinquish control over some processes. The advice is good and the arguments intriguing, and the book will probably be widely cited by those who have always resented neatniks. Too bad it's, well, such a mess. (Jan.)
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Little, Brown and Company
January 02, 2007
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