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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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We as humans have a natural tendency to create hierarchy and want to feel impressed by our peers. However, Catmull has over and over again discovered where true success lies. Most companies very understandably want to be careful how and where they invest their time and money. Catmull has discovered nothing more stifling to a creative environment as fear in oneself and of others. Again through experience, Catmull discovers the common belief of success to not be true.
Through out the book, Catmull encourages failure. However, he encourages it early, fast and fearlessly. He believes only then can progress begin.
This book is appealing and relevant because it is not telling what one should do and how they should do it, but the reader follows Catmull’s journey of failure and success. He is the average person like you and I that has had dreams and goals to achieve. Catmull was in the shoes that we are, will be, or have been in. We read about his frustrations, confusion, and stressful situations that we can understand.
Another appealing aspect of this book is that, in addition to his valuable life lessons, we get to see behind the scenes of our beloved movies. We most likely did not understand what type of work every film went under and reading Catmull’s story brings a new level of appreciation to what Pixar and Disney is. We also get to see the dynamic personality with the man whose product is virtually found everywhere. Steve Jobs.
Because we already have so many ties with the book without even knowing it, I highly recommend it. The reader will feel relevant because they can relate to the same situations and already have familiarity with the products Catmull is working towards. The reader also learns that life isn’t a choice of success of failure. Rather, it is a collectiveness of failure that makes success.
Ed, who is the President of Pixar Animation Studios, is not your regular money first, cut throat businessman. He’s truly kind and deeply respected dreamer, who has a rare ability to be objective, self-critical, and profoundly honest.
The book is a both a journey into the Pixar’s history and a detailed guide to the managers who want to create a sustainable work environment that fosters creativity. However, you won’t find a dry breakdown of banal advices on internal control or checks and balances. Instead, Catmull concentrates on respect, trust, and candor, as the main forces keeping a company successful overtime.
This book is very well rounded. Catmull talks about Zen just as freely as he does about innovations in animation graphics. Even thought it won’t take you behind the scenes of a movie production, but I will explain you why 100% of Pixar movies received raving reviews from critics, by digging deep into the essence of breakthrough managerial excellence, that can be applied in virtually any firm.
Every business student will benefit from reading this book. Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc. will teach you more about management and sustainable work environment than the majority of textbooks you'll ever study in school.
There are definitely some gems here. Though these would sound more like common sensical words, but the fact that it has tested the experience of Ed really gives it a credibility. The common theme is -loosen controls, accept risk , trust colleagues, work to clear the path for them and pay attention to anything that creates fear. The last chapter - ironically titles as Starting points - gives a list of thoughts for making a creative culture. That chapter is quite a good summarisation. Some of the tips there in are very revealing like
"if there is more truth in the hallways than in the meetings, you have a trouble";
"ït is not the managers job to prevent risk, his job is to make it safe to take them";
"be wary of making too many rules, it is demeaning to the 95% who behave well".
There are many more like this and all of them are so very true. It is just that many a time we as managers lack the guts to express these. So, unless one is really enthusiastic to know about the difficulties faced by Pixar/Disney and about animations, I would suggest to read just the last chapter.
The chapter about Fear and Failure (chapter 6) will also find a good resonance with many. The view of Andre Stanton to "fail early and fail fast" or "be wrong as fast as you can" can be adopted by any industry in different aspects. However, I found it difficult to identify with the chapter about "The Hungry Beast" , as most of the process driven and natural resource driven industry would be working around keeping the beast in good condition. Similarly the chapter about ""the hidden " was a bit difficult to connect to.
Going back to question of how much Ed's promise is delivered, I would say to a large extent the wisdom is applicable everywhere. It is just that given Ed is the lord of Animation, the book tends to get repetitive and taxing for someone like me who is not really an animation fan. A lot of time, I had to just plough through the book just to avoid dropping it off all together. Having no reference to any other company or industry adds to the stagnative narration.
But as I said, the last chapter is worth all the effort. Do read that, even if it means paying for the whole book - it is worth it!!
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