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Mini Book Review – A Perfect Mess (Abrahamson and Freedman)

Posted by markharrison on January 30, 2007

I picked up this book on a whim on Thursday, because the title grabbed me – “A Perfect Mess – the hidden benefits of disorder”

It’s another of these US Management books that are written by a pair of authors – one an academic and one a journalist – and once again, the formula works for me.

The central premise of the book is that, in the second half of the 20th Century, the assumption that “Better Organised Means More Effective”  grew and grew, to the extent that many companies have official clear desk policies, and no senior business figure would ever dream of having anything other than a perfectly tidy desk in the official photo, and that this assumption is wrong.

The authors instead present a different view – that there is a continuum from “100% organised” to “100% disorganised” and that, for any given individual, the point of greatest productivity will lie somewhere along that continuum, not at the “100% organised” end.

Intuitively, it’s appealing, not least because it panders to my  own untidy desk.

My pet gripe amongst business books at the moment is the “interesting subject for a short article fleshed out to about 200 pages”-type book. The good news is that, while A Perfect Mess runs to over 300 pages, the information keeps flowing in a way that engages and expands the argument, rather than just re-stating it.

Obviously, as an Entrepreneur, I’m naturally pre-disposed to like the kinds of books that criticise some of the extremes of corporate-behaviour, though as my own company is growing, I’m mellowing a little, and allowing processes to come in. This book has helped bring me back round to the view that processes should be there to help people, not to straight-jacket creativity.

There have been a few books in the last year that have tempted me to go out and do a bulk buy, so that I can give them out to my friends. This certainly falls into that category. (Though, if you consider yourself a friend, and are wondering when yours will be arriving, realise that I was only TEMPTED to do this, I didn’t actually do it!)

Buy A Perfect Mess from


2 Responses to “Mini Book Review – A Perfect Mess (Abrahamson and Freedman)”

  1. […] Book Review – Getting Things Done (Allen) A couple of months ago, I reviewed “A Perfect Mess”, which I highly recommended. The authors were relatively critical of the excesses of the […]

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