Creativity, Inc. Book Summary By Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

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Creativity, Inc.

is a must-read for anyone trying to develop and maintain a creative team.

Through the book, Ed Catmull explores his personal experience in helping to build Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, as well as the management principles he picked up along the way.

He also provides useful tips on how to turn team members into true superstars who are capable of carrying out complex projects.

With detailed descriptions of his real-life examples and go-to management strategies, Creativity, Inc.

is an essential guide to building a successful team and business.

Creativity, Inc

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

Author(s): Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 19 Minutes

Categories: Creativity

Author Bio

Ed Catmull is a highly accomplished manager and innovator.

As the current president of Pixar and Disney's Animation studios, he has had major success in leading these companies to the industry-leading positions they now enjoy.

His history stretches back to 1986 when he co-founded Pixar, and since then he has been instrumental in developing important tools in animation and computer graphics.

He is, undoubtedly, an expert in creative organizational methods which he outlines extensively in his book "Creativity Inc".

Learn How To Become A Creative Leader With Ed Catmull’S “Creativity, Inc

Creative Leader

If you’re a manager in any field, one of the greatest skills you can develop is to tap into your team’s full creative potential and ensure their excellence.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ed Catmull was able to do just that when he co-founded Pixar Studios, creating the world’s first computer-animated feature movie.

In his book Creativity, Inc., Catmull provides a roadmap for managers on how to achieve similar success with their teams.

He outlines different traps that managers stumble into which stifle creativity and offers insights that will help businesses stay profitable but still be open to innovation and risk-taking.

He explains why it’s better to have a great team than just a single great idea, why throwing out the long term strategy might be a good thing and how sometimes stopping production on an assembly line can actually make everything run more efficiently.

Perhaps most importantly, Catmull emphasizes the importance of being willing to think outside the box by details simple methods like buying new furniture that can foster creativity in any team environment.

By implementing some of these principles and learning from Catmull’s extensive experience at Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, you too can unlock both creative energy and financial success within your organization.

How To Create A Company Culture That Encourages And Values Employee Feedback

It’s no secret that within hierarchical structures, employees often feel too scared or unimportant to provide feedback to bosses about how the business could be improved.

This is a major problem, as it prevents the honest employee feedback that could lead to solutions and improvements in the company.

At Pixar, an animation studio, they took a unique approach toward inviting feedback by holding “Notes Days” where all operations ceased and stakeholders discussed their various problems and provided feedback freely and openly.

This process was invaluable for them as it allowed real issues to be heard and eventually solved.

One Japanese company in particular increased productivity by empowering all of its workers with the ability to stop factory production simply by pulling a cord if they saw there was a problem—which ultimately led to faster problem solving and made employees take pride in fixing those problems on their own rather than waiting on management for solutions.

Fear Of Failure And The Need For Flexibility In Business

People naturally prefer familiar territory when faced with new alternatives because they fear making mistakes and being judged as a failure.

This can be seen in the implementation of a new computer system in an office, or learning a new song on the guitar – the fear of making mistakes causes us to cling to what we already know rather than take risks and try something new.

Businesses are also guilty of this, often choosing to stick to safe, predictable routes instead of taking chances and embracing change.

Executives will propose detailed plans designed to limit risk and create stability, but these plans can limit flexibility too much, meaning that businesses won’t be able to take advantage of unexpected opportunities.

This is why companies should aim for a balance between stability and flexibility when it comes to their plans: they need concrete goals in order to have direction, yet they also have to remain open-minded in order to respond effectively to external events.

People also need support from their leaders so that they don’t feel burdened by the fear of failure, allowing them the confidence needed for trying out new ideas.

Confirmation Bias Leads Us To Make Mistakes – But Managers Can Help Avoid Them


Leaders need to recognize that they can’t always have all the answers and be willing to take advice from their staff.

We’ve seen this demonstrated time and again with the issue of confirmation bias: if you’re in a heated argument, you tend to disregard facts that contradict your opinions and hone in on those which reinforce it.

This way of thinking leads to mistakes, like going ahead with a plan for hosting an office party on a boat despite several valid safety concerns expressed by your staff.

No one wants drunken employees slipping over board!

At Pixar, managers realized the value in really listening to their staff’s suggestions, even when they seemed radical or counter-intuitive.

For example, instead of having animators work through the entire production process, they shifted it closer to completion – allowing them to access all needed information quickly and reducing hours worked per person.

It’s clear that the most successful leaders are often the ones who don’t let their egos get in the way of making decisions with sound advice from their team members.

Leaders should be confident enough in themselves and their ideas to accept constructive criticism from their teams and welcome new ideas which could ultimately lead to great success.

The Value Of Pursuing Excellence: How Having A Greater Goal Can Inspire Employees To Achieve Legendary Results

When employees feel that their work is making a significant contribution to the company’s drive for excellence, they are more likely to work harder and put in the effort needed to surmount obstacles.

A great example of this can be found in Pixar’s production of Toy Story 2.

Despite numerous obstacles that threatened to derail their efforts, every single person at Pixar was inspired by the unifying goal of pursuing excellence and worked around the clock seven days a week to ensure success.

The outcome was nothing short of astonishing – the film grossed over $500 million at the box office!

Even though many departments often don’t see eye-to-eye on how things should be done, the production managers among others knew that they were all critical parts contributing to a greater achievement.

With this in mind they were able to push aside any critical remarks from coworkers, stay motivated, and keep working hard till completion.

This goes to show what can happen when every individual employee knows that their actions contribute to something far bigger than them – sheer excellence!

The Right People Are The Key To Business Success: The Power Of Creative Collaboration Through Diversity

No matter how great of an idea you may have or how detailed your plan, if you don’t have the right people to put it into action, then you won’t be successful.

People are ultimately more important than ideas or processes, which is why it’s absolutely essential that you hire the perfect team for the job.

For example, all your favorite products – from Apple iPhones to five-star meals – are incredibly intricate creations that come about through the hard work and collaboration of many individuals.

It’s not just one idea but rather a melting pot of diverse insight brought together in order to conjure something truly outstanding.

When we think about assembling a team, it isn’t just about hiring the most talented people either.

You also want to make sure they will all work well together as this creates an inspiring atmosphere that allows everyone to experiment with concepts and stay up late working on projects together.

Having a diverse group can provide considerable benefits too; differences between people often leads to unexpected insights and new possibilities due to mutual learning and stimulation.

Just look at Ed Catmull’s experience at University of Utah in the 1960s!

Here he was part of a graduate program allowing students from all sorts of backgrounds to use computers freely.

The resulting outcome was revolutionary: even early versions of the internet were produced because multiple talented minds could come together without specific goals or expectations and simply reach awe-inspiring results!

Trust The Experts: Why You Should Empower Your Employees With Bravery, Intelligence And Creativity

Intelligence And Creativity

If you’re a manager, it’s crucial that you trust the people you hire.

It’s important to give them the freedom to be creative and make decisions on their own.

After all, employees are experts at what they do and can more easily solve certain problems than their managers – that’s why they’re hired in the first place!

Pixar offers us a great example of empowering employees by allowing them to work independently with their Braintrust – an experienced group of filmmakers and other production experts who review each film’s progress.

Though they may offer advice or suggestions, it is ultimately up to the director of the film to remain in control so that their individual creativity can truly shine through.

When you hire someone for a position, it’s essential that they have the necessary skills and intelligence to be trusted with autonomy.

Catmull has a rule where he only hires people who he believes surpasses his own intelligence, because those individuals have the confidence to work autonomously without needing as much supervision.

In fact, sometimes Catmull will even hire someone with enough talent and intelligence that eventually surpasses him, but he does this knowing it will bring out the absolute best results possible.

Pixar’S Recovery Techniques Embrace Failing Early On For Effective Error Correction

The philosophy outlined in Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc.

isn’t about avoiding failure, but rather learning from it.

It’s about incorporating recovery techniques into the business plan to help ensure that when something does go wrong, the team is able to get back on its feet quickly.

Rather than trying to prevent failure altogether – which is impossible – Pixar places value on iterative processes and understands that mistakes are part of the process.

As a result, everyone works together as a team to overcome any issues they may encounter rather than relying solely on a single individual.

This is seen in how Pixar handled the production of Monsters Inc., their first film without an experienced director: rather than giving up, they kept at it and worked through their challenges until they got it right.

It also means allowing staff to fail on earlier projects so that lessons can be learned and applied later during vital production phases – thus minimizing negative effects of any inevitable mistakes.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to this fact: a manager’s job isn’t to avoid risk and failure but to enable the company – however challenging it may be – to get back on its feet again.

How Office Design Can Unlock Creativity And Innovation


Companies need to be aware that their working environment plays an important role when it comes to fostering creativity.

For example, at Pixar, the introduction of a new, square shaped table and no assigned places led to increased participation from everyone, creating a much more stimulating atmosphere.

In addition, allowing employees to decorate their desks with items that reflect their individual personalities helps create a connection between the workplace and the individual, thus boosting morale and creativity.

Finally, it’s important for companies to recognize that different people have different styles of work and should provide opportunities for employees to work according to their preferred methods.

An example of such an action is Pixar’s Tools Department where they give employees two “personal project days” each month.

By providing resources during these times, employees are given the freedom to explore problems and develop solutions which can potentially benefit not just them personally but also benefit the company as well.

Wrap Up

In summary, Creativity, Inc.

provides a comprehensive look at how to foster an inventive and forward-thinking culture in any organization.

The key takeaway from this book is that change and uncertainty are essential components of creating a spark of creativity within your team.

It also emphasizes the importance of being able to adjust your plans and vibrations when things don’t go as expected, as well as varying work stations to facilitate creativity and innovation.

By setting up the right environment, teams can really tap into their creative potential and create something amazing!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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