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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.
The universal flaw has been that they try to TEACH creativity, starting with the tacit assumption that you are a bland, mindless drone who has never had an original idea in your life. For bland, mindless drones this may be just the thing. For folks who actually ARE creative it is thin, awful gruel. People who have a hope of being creative have no trouble at all coming up with new ideas. They are EXPLODING with new ideas. They have been all their lives! What they desperately want is help finding a way to exercise their creativity without being beaten up, mashed down, and kicked to the curb.
The environment that Ed Catmull and his colleagues strive to create and maintain at Pixar and Disney Animation sounds like pure heaven to me. Never mind that I am not an animator or much of a storyteller -- I am an engineer. This book is an extended "How To" on avoiding the myriad ways to murder original thought. There is hardly any instruction on how to become creative. Ed and Company take it as a given that creativity is straining at its restraints. Their contribution is to detail all the ways creativity is beaten out of people and organizations, and how to prevent that.
For those of us who ARE creative, it is a breath of fresh air, a ray of hope, and many other cliches of release and liberation. One can finally dream of finding such an enlightened environment to join and thrive in. Perhaps a few managers might learn how to avoid brutalizing the employees who are trying so desperately hard to show them the way forward.
Buy this book. Read it. It will inspire you.
Ed has some fantastic advice on how to set up and build trust within an organization so that creative (artists, directors, and writers) work well with project management people and with technologists. He does this through the use of Candor, which is a key theme throughout the book. It's not honesty, it's being open and discussing the specifics of the project without attacking the creator.
He discusses how he incorporated Lean methodology to help continually improve the process because the process can and should change to help people, which he truly shows are the most important thing in his business, leave because of how terrible processes are.
One thing that I really felt set this book apart from other management type books is that he openly discusses melt downs at his company. This is typically glossed over or written in such a way that it feels obvious that the methodology discussed in the book would resolve it. He made it clear that at many points their management approach failed them and that they had to reinvent parts of it to get through these melt downs.
I also think that there's good advice in this book for dealing with mergers. If it is important that your company retain its identity after merging with another company, because you believe that the culture is what made your company valuable to begin with, then he offers some clear advice and tactics that they successfully employed when merging with Disney.
I really enjoyed this book, and strongly recommend this for someone looking for a non-standard management book. Some of the advice is going to be hard to take some of it won't work in your company, but it's great advice regardless.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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