Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand ↠ Epub multi

From Ed Catmull co founder with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter of Pixar Animation Studios comes an incisive book about creativity in business—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink Tom Peters and Chip and Dan Heath Creativity Inc is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights a manual for anyone who strives for originality and the first ever all access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the story meetings the postmortems and the “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made It is at heart a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also as Pixar co founder and president Ed Catmull writes “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible”   For nearly twenty years Pixar has dominated the world of animation producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy Monsters Inc Finding Nemo The Incredibles Up and WALL E which have gone on to set box office records and garner twenty seven Academy Awards The joyousness of the storytelling the inventive plots the emotional authenticity In some ways Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is Now in this book Catmull reveals the ideals and techniues that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable   As a young man Ed Catmull had a dream to make the first computer animated movie He nurtured that dream as a PhD student at the University of Utah where many computer science pioneers got their start and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led indirectly to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986 Nine years later Toy Story was released changing animation forever The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the uniue environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar based on philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention such as   • Give a good idea to a mediocre team and they will screw it up But give a mediocre idea to a great team and they will either fix it or come up with something better • If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature you will be ill prepared to lead • It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them • The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them • A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure Everybody should be able to talk to anybody • Do not assume that general agreement will lead to change—it takes substantial energy to move a group even when all are on board   Advance praise for Creativity Inc   “Many have attempted to formulate and categorize inspiration and creativity What Ed Catmull shares instead is his astute experience that creativity isn’t strictly a well of ideas but an alchemy of people In Creativity Inc Ed reveals with commonsense specificity and honesty examples of how not to get in your own way and realize a creative coalescence of art business and innovation”—George Lucas   “Business gurus love to tell stories about Pixar but this is our first chance to hear the real story from someone who lived it and led it

10 thoughts on “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

  1. says:

    For those unfamiliar with Ed Catmull he is best known as the president of both Pixar and Disney Animation Studios Full disclosure I work for the latter Before I came to work at Disney I knew of Ed Catmull as a technological innovator in the field of computer graphics and animation He was essential in the development of the alpha channel z buffer texture mapping and a number of other technologies that make digital animation possible After years of problem solving in the technical space he found himself in charge of a thriving company Pixar and devoted his problem solving acumen to management and the problem of keeping creativity alive This book is a record of that effort his successes his failures and the lessons he learned along the wayI haven't read much in the way of management books so it's hard for me to compare Creativity Inc with others in that field but Catmull has a particular advantage when it comes to credentials and credibility Pixar has released 14 animated features; every single one of them a box office phenomenon and Pixar enjoys the most consistent critical success of any studio Similarly Disney Animation has seen a resurgence under Ed's and John Lasseter's leadership with an ever improving slate of hitsWhat makes those statistics so impressive is that creativity is a legendarily fickle beast success often leads to complacency what worked before is encoded as rule and takes away the flexibility to innovate population and budgets get blown out of proportion until the constraints that provided inspiration disappear and as a result creative streaks tend to be frustratingly unsustainableEd Catmull shares the story of his early days in computer graphics and his uncertain transition into management giving specific examples of things that worked and did not work There are numerous anecdotes about his interactions with Steve Jobs and the various directors at Pixar and deep reflection on the roles of personality pride bias objectivity failure success teamwork and the various permutations thereof Eventually Pixar is acuired by Disney with the unusual result of Ed and John being placed in charge of Disney Animation This provides a test bed to try Pixar's management philosophy out on a new population of talented but struggling filmmakersThe conclusion is that there are no easy answers or set rules for keeping creativity alive Anything that can be stated as a maxim is already half way obsolete as the repeated words become divorced from the reality of the situation Instead creativity reuires constant vigilance searching oneself for biases trying things in new ways picking talented people and allowing them to have a voice keeping your communications open and independent of your organizational structure knowing when to cut your losses in the interest of pursuing excellence failing often and not seeing failure as something to be protected against and so on I can't summarize all the insights and their explanations are helpful so read the bookI'll sum up by saying Creativity Inc should be of interest to managers of all stripes even in businesses that aren't traditionally seen as creative as well as to anyone who follows the history of technology or animation Ed Catmull is an extremely smart person and it's nice to see someone with his perspicacity and concern for others in such a prominent position The book won't win any awards for flowery prose but it was a uick read and Ed Catmull has a very pragmatic introspective and unclouded approach to problem solving that will benefit everyone

  2. says:

    This book is so disappointing I had hoped it would take one behind the scenes of such storytelling genius as UP and TOY STORY Instead it's a bunch of platitudes which could be bullet pointed in a few pages which indeed they are at the end Most of it is common sense rigid pyramid structures in organisations are bad; everybody should feel free to contribute; and get this if you're planning to write a feature film it's good to do some research Like duh At one point Catmull who to his credit comes across as a regular self deprecatory guy even suggests doing Zen style meditation to contemplate the inner mysteries of management At this point I felt like marching round to the back of his head and snipping off his pony tail Fine if you're a pampered West Coast animator whose facility has a swimming pool pottery and ballet classes etc Try telling that to the average British company whose idea of a worker's perk is a new beige computer every four years and grudgingly providing instant coffee

  3. says:

    People first story second great advice for managing a business Interesting to hear Pixar's history told first hand as was Catmull's interactions with Steve Jobs Audiobook narrator is super good

  4. says:

    Recommend this highly for anyone who works in a technology or creative field Pixars track records is unparalleled 14 movies and all of them have been massive hits I had two important takeaways from this book how to build a great lasting culture and how to build a creative companyCatmull's philosophy both around creating movies and managing his company is to be relentless about remembering that he doesn't know what he doesn't know In creating a movie you don't know what it will be when you start In creating a company you similarly don't know what it will be especially at first But eually importantly when you are scaling it you don't know the dynamics of what is happening throughout the company you will have a filtered view based on the always incomplete picture you can see So you have to relentlessly have the mindset to remember that there are dynamics at play that you don't know and look for them“From that day on I resolved to bring as many hidden problems as possible to light a process that would reuire what might seem like an uncommon commitment to self assessment”I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know—not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset the most striking breakthroughs cannot occurSo how did Pixar build 14 hits in a row? They created a highly leveraged feedback loop They created a culture of open feedback and encourage anyone in the room regardless of rank to have an eual voice They have lots of ways to get feedback on the film and iterate on it from daily standup every morning to review scenes up to braintrust meetings with all the best directors and creative minds to review the story They spend a lot of time years iterating on and nailing the story before putting it into production and even then they keep iterating Nothing trumps good story “Braintrust meetings reuire giving candid notes but they do a great deal than that The most productive creative sessions allow for the exploration of myriad trains of thought”The first step is to teach them that everyone at Pixar shows incomplete work and everyone is free to make suggestions When they realize this the embarrassment goes away—and when the embarrassment goes away people become creativein Japanese Zen that idea of not being constrained by what we already know is called “beginner’s mind” And people practice for years to recapture and keep ahold of itI loved the concept of the beast which is the trap of needing to continue to succeed a higher and higher levels “It is one of life’s cruel ironies that when it comes to feeding the Beast success only creates pressure to hurry up and succeed again” An important point to this was that feeding the beast means bigger and better and taking less risks To create something new you have to have the right leadership to shelter the seed and let it grow The stories about Steve Jobs were great Made you respect him even For taking a huge financial risk to spin Pixar out of Lucasfilms and then personally float it for a long time taking even risk I loved hearing about how much foresight he had with regards to Disney and negotiating that deal I also loved the story about the wide screen basically how Steve responds to passion and pushes people until he finds where it is This uote explains it well His method for taking the measure of a room was saying something definitive and outrageous—“These charts are bullshit” or “This deal is crap”—and watching people react If you were brave enough to come back at him he often respected it—poking at you then registering your response was his way of deducing what you thought and whether you had the guts to champion it

  5. says:

    Creativity Inc Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration is by Ed Catmull the founder of Pixar As his career progressed and Pixar continued to grow Ed learned the type of leader he wanted to be and how to foster a culture that perpetually promotes and encourages creativity He shares many characteristics of such a culture in this book Ed knew early on he wanted to work in computer animation and make a movie by doing so He was enthralled with Walt Disney as a kid In college he was tasked with pitching a type of employee exchange program to Disney with the University of Utah Disney wasn’t interested but attempted to hire Catmull to be part of Disney Imagineering the division that builds Disney’s theme parks Ed refused the offer immediately as this wasn’t what he wanted to do While Disney Imagineering sounds cool in theory this story shared very early on in Creativity Inc resonated with me and only enhanced my respect for Ed So many times when I was finishing up grad school or a new grad shortly after looking for a job people would say “Just take whatever they give you; it’s good to just get in the door etc” and while sometimes this may be true for people I resisted hard I knew what I wanted to do There was no indecisiveness or uncertainty Ed appears to have felt the same way and I admire people who stick to their vision Ed worked for George Lucas at Lucasfilm before going on to create Pixar which struggled initially and was saved by Steve Jobs purchasing it and pumping in tons of money to keep it afloat Ed and Steve’s mutual respect for each other is apparent throughout the book Pixar’s first movie a total hit was Toy Story One of my personal favorite movies from childhood I really enjoyed reading about the creation and development of many wonderful movies Pixar has created as well as the lessons learned along the way In addition to Toy Story other personal favorites are Up and Inside Out There are lots of great takeaways from the book and a few that I appreciated in particular include ”We must acknowledge the random events that went our way because acknowledging our good fortune — and not telling ourselves that everything we did was some stroke of genius — let’s us make realistic assessments and decisions The existence of luck also reminds us that our activities are less repeatable Since change is inevitable the uestion is Do you act to stop it and try to protect yourself from it or do you become the master of change by accepting it and being open to it? My view of course is that working with change is what creativity is all about” Artists are often taught ways to see by training their minds’ to turn off the tendency to jump to conclusions For example instead of getting frustrated by perfecting the task of drawing a chair the artist may be asked to draw the negative spaces surrounding the chair You can teach your brain to observe other things without letting preconceptions interfere Look at various viewpoints being offered as additive rather than competitive A competitive approach measures other ideas against your own creating a debate to be won or lost An additive approach starts with acknowledging that each participant contributes something even if it’s an idea that ultimately doesn’t work but fuels the discussion Failure is often used as a weapon instead of an agent of learning The politics surrounding failure can freuently impede progress ”Being open about problems is the first step toward learning from them” Fear can’t be completely driven out in a high stakes game but we should loosen its grip You do not need to work in animation design or a traditionally creative industry to grasp the concepts and takeaways Ed describes in Creativity Inc There is something to be gained for everyone from this book which is a great source on how to reframe an idea consider alternate perspectives and think differently about a concept and embrace change I enjoyed the book and it’s likely one I’ll come back to from time to time as a refresher on some of the key points it made

  6. says:

    Pixar Creativity is the story of Pixar and its founders Steve Jobs John Lasseter and Ed Catmull and how they managed to establish Pixar as a thriving business The road to business success is never straightforward with twists turns and mountains to climb The fate of Pixar and their first film Toy Story are inseparable The story tracks the creation of Toy Story the world's first computer generated animation film Following the first showing their hearts dropped They had achieved a wonderful feat of technical advances and graphical breakthroughs but there was one vital piece missing There was no story There were no characters that viewers could empathise with laugh with cry with or root for They recognised their failing they needed a storytellerThe pressure and financial needs to finish the project must have been immense Toy Story however became a huge success and then the next era beginsHow do we do it again?It's always interesting to appreciate the challenges and highlights entrepreneurs face in establishing new companies What is insightful in this book is to explore what happens after success in terms of motivation pressures to deliver again and renewed creativity challenges How teams react to stepping up into the fray again Are you a one trick pony?This book looks at those often forgotten issues but they are crucially important It's very interesting to consider that the people that brought you to the point of initial success are they the best ones to take you forward? It is also very interesting to explore how technical capability meets the art of story telling A very interesting read and a uniue perspective from a uniue companyI would recommend reading this book not just from a business story but the trials and tribulations of creating an animated movie that we all know

  7. says:

    I read this because I'm an artist but I loved it because I'm a manager Whether you're a computer science history buff a fan of Pixar or Disney an aspiring animator an entrepreneur an artist or manager you'll get something great out of this book One of the best business books I've read in a long time

  8. says:

    I was reading this for the creativity angle than the story of a company angle so I definitely skimmed some of the Pixar story I read bits of this to the group of library faculty and staff that I supervise and we had a great conversation about our current and upcoming ugly babies Originality is fragile And in its first moments it's often far from pretty This is why I call early mock ups of our films ugly babies They are not beautiful miniature versions of the adults they will grow up to be They are truly ugly awkward and unformed vulnerable and incomplete They need nurturing in the form of time and patience in order to grow Our job is to protect our babies from being judged too uickly Our job is to protect the newManagers of creative enterprises must hold lightly to goals and firmly to intentionsThe goal is to place one foot on either side of the door one grounded in what we know what wer are confident about our areas of expertise the people and processes we can count on and the other in the unknown where things are murky unseen or uncreatedGive a good idea to a mediocre team and they will screw it up Give a mediocre idea to a great team and they will either fix it or come up with something better If you get the team right chances are that they'll get the ideas rightIf there are people in your organization who feel they are not free to suggest ideas you lose Do not discount ideas from unexpected sources Inspiration can and does come from anywhereIt isn't enough merely to be open to ideas from others Engaging the collective brainpower of the people you work with is an active ongoing processIt is not the manager's job to prevent risks It is the manager's job to make it safe to take them

  9. says:

    What this book is a managerial how to on fostering creativity productivity and work life balance in the officeWhat this book is not a guidebook of creative inspiration for regular everyday DIYers who work alone The ideas are cut and dry and pretty simplistic for being ostensibly a manager's book on creativityAlthough this book isn't a memoir there is a very brief gloss over on Ed Catmull's family childhood and education There are interesting details on Pixar's promising yet rocky start Steve Jobs and his explosive personality the financial difficulties Pixar endured in its beginning years and the Disney takeover These are the main points Change and uncertainty are part of life Don't resist change; build the capability to recover when unexpected events occur Failure is a necessary conseuence of doing something new Don't fall for the illusion that by preventing errors you won't have errors to fix The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them The creative process is messy You will have an ugly baby initially; the beautiful end product doesn't arrive spontaneously but through many incarnations of ugly

  10. says:

    This book was eual parts Management Theory Text and Memoirs of an Unconventional CEO with a healthy dose of My Business Relationship with Steve Jobs and while that may sound a bit scattered or even dry this work is neither Catmull manages to sprinkle the above seasonings into the broth in precisely the correct measurements to create an insightful and enjoyable stew Often mentioned in the text is his continued education often through trial and error about effectively managing creative people Upon reflection I am given to wonder if perhaps his journey was one of a crystalization of his personal beliefs and style rather than a deepening understanding or discovery Whatever the case this book was an enjoyable read and not at all a dry dusty tome Even so and for no discernable reason that I can put my finger on I am hesitant to give this book than 3 stars Granted that may be unfair of me Give it a read and decide for yourself