Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

Creativity Inc

Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc. was an accomplishment for me. I’ve never been a huge fan of non-fiction books. Not that I shy away from the genre as a whole but that I prefer a deep delve into a narrative which many authors of non-fiction don’t fulfill. Catmull, as one of the founders of Pixar, doesn’t struggle in this department. I found myself submerged in his book a combination of an origin story and an examination of how to run an innovative, creative enterprise.

It’s deeply fascinating to see a theory which is fluttered around at the drop of a hat by business gurus and thinkers. Catmull picks apart a word which has become a cliché omnipresent in my life into a legitimate and concrete strategy. My business brain was rapt. As a recent graduate with a background in the Arts and in Business, I found myself thinking deeply about the content. I wanted to really understand what he was saying, to enable and enact it in my own future. This book was a career changer for me.

I am grateful for Creativity, Inc.’s ability to capture a diffuse energy which captivates a large part of my non-reading life. The part of me that volunteers and organizes groups of can-do people towards achievable goals. The part of me that takes pride in a well-organized and structured PowerPoint deck

I admire Catmull’s ability to be open to the process as much as I admire his team’s ability to plan a huge companywide event which acknowledges their failures and strives to improve the company as a whole. His honesty about the difficulties of accepting criticism and dismantling counterproductive hierarchies held me rapt for several days. They had colour-coded reflection and exit survey sheets. They had seminars, workshops, and an outdoor barbecue. These are the stories which hold an appeal to me and are absent in literature but play such a significant role in my life that it was a refreshing break.

Planning this post was a whole different exercise from my usual because the elements of story and device which I normally try to parse out were not the point. Instead, I feel the need to capture moments which most spoke to me as a new grad and I found useful in my budding career.

  • Always take a chance on the better, even if it seems threatening
  • For all the care you put into artistry, visual polish frequently doesn’t matter if you’re getting the story right
  • You don’t have to ask permission to take responsibility
  • Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea
  • When experimentation is seen as necessary and productive, not as a frustrating waste of time, people will enjoy their work–even when it is confounding them
  • If you don’t try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead
  • If you are mindful, you are able to focus on the problem at hand without getting caught up in plans and processes