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Learn the key ideas of the book by Ed Catmull

Creativity, Inc.

How to create an environment that helps creativity flourish

We take a trip to the central nervous system of Pixar animation studios to understand how to build, protect and maintain a creative work culture. The story tells us about how we can break down any barriers along the road of continuous innovation and challenge the destructive forces that can jeopardize a company’s success. Creativity, Inc. is dedicated to anyone who is looking for originality without compromise and who would like to take their employees to creative infinity and beyond.

Creativity, Inc.
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 22 min.

From a love of Disney cartoons to the creation of Pixar

As a child, Ed Catmull had two idols: Walt Disney and Albert Einstein. For Ed, these two figures represent two ends of the creativity spectrum: Disney invented something new, creating something that previously didn’t exist, from both a technological and artistic perspective. Einstein instead was the master of explaining what already existed. With these two masters in his heart, Catmull graduated in physics and computer science and realised that he had a big dream: he wanted to make the first completely computerised animated film (at a time when computer graphics was in its infancy).

He was invited to the New York Institute of Technology to manage a brand new Computer Graphics lab, where he learned three important lessons:

  • If you want to be a good manager, make sure that you hire people who are better than you, put the most brilliant minds at your side, even if it will shock your ego.
  • Don’t hide the results of your research, be generous and share them with others in your sector with the utmost transparency.
  • Put complete faith and trust in your employees so that they can work on their projects with motivation and determination.

In 1979, Catmull was hired by George Lucas as the manager of the computer science division of Lucasfilm: this was the first time he stepped out of the research environment and he found himself having to deal with the corporate world and the dynamics of profit. In 1986, Steve Jobs bought the digital graphics department from Lucas and created Pixar. In his role as president, Catmull brought with him the lessons that he had learned studying the Japanese method of production, which was that all employees, regardless of their role, are responsible for the quality and the continuous improvement of the product. Everyone is encouraged to identify problems and to suggest solutions and improvements. The first important lesson that he taught was that everyone was responsible for the quality of the final product.


The key ideas of "Creativity, Inc."

From a love of Disney cartoons to the creation of Pixar
The great success of Toy Story and the need to set a high level, challenging goal
How the Pixar identity was created
Ways to protect and nurture a climate of corporate creativity
Some methods used by Pixar to question preconceptions, lift people’s mood and foster collaboration
The best way to predict the future is to create it
Testing your mind model in a different context
Notes Day as a way to find solutions together
Take-home message

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