Book Review- Creativity, Inc.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
by Ed Catmull, with Amy Wallace, 2014


A combination biography/business advice book from the co-founder of Pixar and president of the Disney/Pixar Animation merger. Catmull describes his unending quest to promote creativity at Pixar and avoid the pitfalls that success can bring. I really like Pixar movies, which drove me to the book. I really like the advice given in the book, but wouldn’t suggest the book for those who want to read about the Pixar movies. Pixar is just the setting in which the advice is explained, and the amount of details and insights into the workings of animators is limited.

The last section offers a summary of the advice in the book, and is easily quotable:

Give 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 right.

If 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 anywhere.

Do not fall for the illusion that by preventing errors, you won’t have errors to fix. The truth is, the cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.

Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way. And that’s as it should be.

Be wary of making too many rules. Rules can simplify life for managers, but they can be demeaning to the 95% who behave well. Don’t create rules to rein in the other 5%– address abuses of common sense individually. This is more work but ultimately healthier.

Don’t confuse the process with the goal. Working on our processes to make them better, easier, and more efficient is an indispensable activity and something ewe should continually work on– but it is not the goal. Making the product great is the goal.

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