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

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

Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0812993012

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Huffington Post • Financial Times • Success • Inc. • Library Journal

From Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, the Academy Award–winning studio behind Inside Out and Toy Story, comes an incisive book about creativity in business and leadership—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath. Fast Company raves that Creativity, Inc. “just might be the most thoughtful management book ever.”

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 meetings, postmortems, and “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, WALL-E, and Inside Out, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty 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. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques 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 Ph.D. 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 unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on leadership and management 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.

Praise for Creativity, Inc.

“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.”—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

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events are impossible to see, so we don’t realize how key a role they played. Consider the children who attend Pixar’s day-care program, many of whom are the offspring of couples who met at Pixar. (John and I frequently note with pride the number of Pixar marriages and the many Pixar kids that have come into the world as a result.) Think of all the things that had to happen to make those babies possible. If Pixar had never existed, they would never have been born. You can turn back the clock a

great example of the 40-percent rule that Pete referred to: We aren’t aware that the majority of what we think we see is actually our brain filling in the gaps. The illusion that we have a complete picture is extraordinarily persuasive. However, the magician doesn’t create the illusion—we do. We firmly believe that we are perceiving reality in its totality rather than a sliver of it. In other words, we are aware of the results of our brain’s processing but not the processing itself. Typically,

computer—as well as to figure out how to add richness and complexity to the images we were creating. My dissertation, “A Subdivision Algorithm for Computer Display of Curved Surfaces,” offered a solution to that problem. Much of what I spent every waking moment thinking about then was extremely technical and difficult to explain, but I’ll give it a try. The idea behind what I called “subdivision surfaces” was that instead of setting out to depict the whole surface of a shiny, red bottle, for

brains, or monkey minds, so happily serve up—they were better able to tolerate pain than those who did not practice meditation. Next, McGonigal cited a similar study done at Wake Forest University that focused on a group of brand new meditators who’d undergone only four days of training. When they were brought into the laboratory and given the same pain test, some were able to tolerate greater levels of pain than others. Why? The temptation might be to surmise that these people were simply quick

John, and I walked out onto a stage at the far end of Pixar’s atrium and greeted all eight hundred of our employees. This was a crucial moment for the company, and we wanted our colleagues to understand its genesis and how the deal would work. One by one, John, Steve, and I spoke about the thinking behind the deal—how Pixar needed a strong partner, how this was a positive step in our evolution, and how determined we were, despite the changes, to protect our culture. Looking out into the faces of

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