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

by Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace


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The Huffington Post • Financial Times • Success • Inc. • Library Journal

“What does it mean to manage well?”

From Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, comes an incisive book about creativity in business—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath. Forbes raves that Creativity, Inc. “just might be the business book ever written.”

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, and WALL-E, 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 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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812993011
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/08/2014
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 42,292
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 2.20(d)

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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Excerpted from "Creativity, Inc."
by .
Copyright © 2014 Ed Catmull.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Lost and Found ix

Part I Getting Started 1

Chapter 1 Animated 3

Chapter 2 Pixar Is Born 21

Chapter 3 A Defining Goal 45

Chapter 4 Establishing Pixar's Identity 66

Part II Protecting the New 83

Chapter 5 Honesty and Candor 85

Chapter 6 Fear and Failure 106

Chapter 7 The Hungry Beast and the Ugly Baby 129

Chapter 8 Change and Randomness 145

Chapter 9 The Hidden 167

Part III Building and Sustaining 187

Chapter 10 Broadening Our View 189

Chapter 11 The Unmade Future 223

Part IV Testing What We Know 241

Chapter 12 A New Challenge 243

Chapter 13 Notes Day 275

Afterword: The Steve We Knew 297

Starting Points: Thoughts for Managing a Creative Culture 315

Acknowledgments 321

Index 325

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Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This truly is one of the best books I've ever read on how to manage creative people well. But there's so much more to it than that. It's entertaining. It's engaging. It's educational. It made me want to work for Pixar. They put as much thought into how their employees interact and engage with each other as they do their next script and movie idea. This book is truly inspiring. READ IT.
jonpeske More than 1 year ago
Wow!  This book is amazing.  I am in education, but it think the principles he describes about  how to run a company where you empower good people to strive for excellence  have broad application.  If you have ever wondered how Pixar has managed to have 14 successive number one movies, you will want to read this.  
amiedie More than 1 year ago
This holds your attention from the start. If you have followed along with the animation story at all then the details add rich color to the history of the films produced and the growth of the industry. I found it to be captivating, even if you had never seen a Pixar film the story is filled with the sense of working to bring to life ideas that are only imagined. The success of the company is secondary to the struggles and the growth of the individuals who championed a new way of making films come to life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very enjoyable book! I learned a lot about how much thought and work goes into creating a high quality animated film and about some really interesting management techniques being used at Pixar. Other companies, not just creative companies, should consider using some of these management techniques as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book makes me want to dance a happy little jig. Thank you for allowing me to swing from the tip of a star!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago