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Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration Hardcover – April 8, 2014
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“Just might be the best business book ever written.”—Forbes
“Achieving enormous success while holding fast to the highest artistic standards is a nice trick—and Pixar, with its creative leadership and persistent commitment to innovation, has pulled it off. This book should be required reading for any manager.”—Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit
“Steve Jobs—not a man inclined to hyperbole when asked about the qualities of others—once described Ed Catmull as ‘very wise,’ ‘very self-aware,’ ‘really thoughtful,’ ‘really, really smart,’ and possessing ‘quiet strength,’ all in a single interview. Any reader of Creativity, Inc., Catmull’s new book on the art of running creative companies, will have to agree. Catmull, president of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, has written what just might be the most thoughtful management book ever.”—Fast Company
“It’s one thing to be creative; it’s entirely another—and much more rare—to build a great and creative culture. Over more than thirty years, Ed Catmull has developed methods to root out and destroy the barriers to creativity, to marry creativity to the pursuit of excellence, and, most impressive, to sustain a culture of disciplined creativity during setbacks and success. Pixar’s unrivaled record, and the joy its films have added to our lives, gives his method the most important validation: It works.”—Jim Collins, co-author of Built to Last and author of Good to Great
“Too often, we seek to keep the status quo working. This is a book about breaking it.”—Seth Godin
“What is the secret to making more of the good stuff? Every so often Hollywood embraces a book that it senses might provide the answer. . . . Catmull’s book is quickly becoming the latest bible for the show business crowd.”—The New York Times
“The most practical and deep book ever written by a practitioner on the topic of innovation.”—Prof. Gary P. Pisano, Harvard Business School
“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. Everyone interested in managing innovation—or just good managing—needs to read this book.”—Chip Heath, co-author of Switch and Decisive
“A fascinating story about how some very smart people built something that profoundly changed the animation business and, along the way, popular culture . . . [Creativity, Inc.] is a well-told tale, full of detail about an interesting, intricate business. For fans of Pixar films, it’s a must-read. For fans of management books, it belongs on the ‘value added’ shelf.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Pixar uses technology only as a means to an end; its films are rooted in human concerns, not computer wizardry. The same can be said of Creativity Inc., Ed Catmull’s endearingly thoughtful explanation of how the studio he co-founded generated hits such as the Toy Story trilogy, Up and Wall-E. . . . [Catmull] uses Pixar’s triumphs and near-disasters to outline a system for managing people in creative businesses—one in which candid criticism is delivered sensitively, while individuality and autonomy are not strangled by a robotic corporate culture.”—Financial Times
“A wonderful new book . . . Unlike most books written by founders, this isn’t some myth-heavy legacy project—it’s far closer to a blueprint. Catmull takes us inside the Pixar ecosystem and shows how they build and refine excellence, in revelatory detail. . . . If you do creative work, you should read it, now.”—Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code
“A superb debut intended for managers in all fields of endeavor . . . He takes readers inside candid discussions and retreats at which participants, assuming the early versions of movies are bad, explore ways to improve them. Unusually rich in ideas, insights and experiences, the book celebrates the benefits of an open, nurturing work environment. An immensely readable and rewarding book that will challenge and inspire readers to make their workplaces hotbeds of creativity.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Punctuated with surprising tales of how the company’s films were developed and the company’s financial struggles, Catmull shares insights about harnessing talent, creating teams, protecting the creative process, candid communications, organizational structures, alignment, and the importance of storytelling. . . . [Creativity, Inc.] will delight and inspire creative individuals and their managers, as well as anyone who wants to work ‘in an environment that fosters creativity and problem solving.’”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“For anyone managing anything, and particularly those trying to manage creative teams, Catmull is like a kind, smart godfather guiding us toward managing wisely, without losing our souls, and in a way that works toward greatness. Perhaps it’s all Up from there.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“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 how to realize a creative coalescence of art, business, and innovation.”—George Lucas
“This is the best book ever written on what it takes to build a creative organization. It is the best because Catmull’s wisdom, modesty, and self-awareness fill every page. He shows how Pixar’s greatness results from connecting the specific little things they do (mostly things that anyone can do in any organization) to the big goal that drives everyone in the company: making films that make them feel proud of one another.”—Robert I. Sutton, Stanford professor and author of The No A**hole Rule and co-author of Scaling Up Excellence
About the Author
Ed Catmull is co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. He has been honored with five Academy Awards, including the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for lifetime achievement in the field of computer graphics. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Utah. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and children.
Amy Wallace is a journalist whose work has appeared in GQ, The New Yorker, Wired, Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times Magazine. She currently serves as editor-at-large at Los Angeles Times magazine. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor at the Los Angeles Times and wrote a monthly column for The New York Times Sunday Business section. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is just like Ed: Brilliant, quotable, succinct, and humble. There are few people in this world as smart as Ed, fewer who seem to lack any ego, and a vanishingly small number who are both. In fact, Ed"s the only one I've met. Even though I was for years the low man on the totem pole, Ed never treated me differently than the highest status dignitaries who visited Pixar.
For years when I showed guests around Pixar or spoke of its culture I maintained that everything good about it, and the fact that art and technology are words that unite people rather than divide them is all due to Ed. With this book I get a big, fat I Told You So.
I recommend this book to anybody who is starting, running, managing, or working at a company; to anybody working in, studying, or interested in any creative pursuit; to fans of Pixar or Disney; and to anybody who likes a well-written book by a damn interesting guy. And you will not find a more intimate and clear-eyed assessment of Steve Jobs anywhere.
Ed"s wife told me once that he reads math books on vacation to relax. Nobody else could write a book on management that cites both Zen and stochastic self-similarity.
Creativity, Inc. is one of the most astounding, insightful books I've ever had the good fortune of reading. While Ed Catmull writes at length about his tenure at Pixar, and later Disney Animation—both obviously based in the movie industry—this book is universally applicable to any creative in any industry.
I'm currently a copywriter in an advertising agency, eager to advance through the ranks to one day manage a group of advertising creatives as a creative director. Reading this book now was one of the smartest career moves I could have ever made. Beyond helping me understand the decisions that shape the best (and worst) parts of my agency, Creativity, Inc. taught me an unimaginable amount about the intricacies of working in and sustaining a creative environment with other creative people. Ed Catmull cleverly weaves creative management advice with a case-study of one of the world's most creative workplaces; connecting dots, drawing lines, and ultimately painting a masterpiece. I've been inspired by insights that have already begun informing to my day-to-day, helping me to be the absolute best I can be and helping the work I contribute to be the best it can be, too. The ways I approach obstacles, or even full-blown problems, have been reinvigorated and restructured. The ways I collaborate with others, regardless of how high the stakes are, have improved tenfold. And the ways I chart my career's trajectory (as well as what I can hope to accomplish) have been reimagined. Furthermore, Creativity, Inc. has helped me reframe some of the common obstacles I face as a creative, better enabling me to tackle problems proactively and "dress for the job I want."
I already know that this will be a book I read numerous times throughout my career, gleaning new and circumstantially relevant ideas with each pass. Regardless of where you are on the creative–career-ladder, Creativity, Inc. will freshen your thinking and help you be the sharpest and most creative person you can be.
Oh, and learning about the history of Pixar (as well as the backstories that led to some of Pixar's greatest successes and challenges) is fascinating, too.
Scroll up and buy this now—you won't regret it.
The expressed purpose of this book is that offers systematic guidelines for high-level managers of companies that have a strong if not sole creative bent, such as Pixar, which was founded and molded by the author (along with many colleagues, of course). Mr. Catmull has documented his ongoing journey that enabled Pixar to thrive despite many pitfalls that could have left us without such brilliance as Pete Docter's "Inside Out."
For me personally, the concept that resonated so deeply was that the organization (in this case meaning just myself) fares best by keeping the ship moving forward with a "mistakes-be-damned" attitude, rather than expending energy trying to avoid failures altogether. It was eye-opening and comforting to learn that so many wonderful movies Pixar created were not anywhere close to the masterpieces they ended up becoming when they had begun. It was this aspect of the book that helped me work through the paralyzing blocks of overly high expectations and judgment early in the process in favor of just starting with a first draft and then molding the piece from there.
A larger message for the intended audience might be that thanks to constructive feedback and equanimity for all people involved in the project, and a safe, systematically supportive environment, projects have been constructively guided and nudged forward to their almost inevitable commercial and artistic success.
I cannot say that everyone will connect as strongly to this book as I did, but I can say that Mr. Catmull has shared his gifts for reflection, empathy, and indefatigable desire for improvement, along with unfailing respect for the animation craft and its purveyors, in a very engaging and mindful book that is both inspiring and enlightening.
So, if you care about the well-being of your company and its people, or if you're a struggling writer like me, I can't imagine you'll not enjoy Creativity, Inc!