After reading this review of Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull, from my boss, I was excited to get my own copy and delve into its stories and insights. The opening of the book immediately connected with me as Catmull explained his career path and the challenges he faced moving from a role of directly being a film-maker to more generally being creative culture leader. In his words, “As I turned my attention from solving technical problems to engaging with the philosophy of sound management, I was excited once again — and sure that our second act could be as exhilarating as our first.”
With my pen in hand, ready to underline and take notes, I excitedly plowed through the 300-page book. I feel like I marked up well over half the book — it was that good and relevant. This is a book for company leaders seeking advice from an experienced manager on how to engage creative teams, yet keep them disciplined and interested. I was able to draw many parallels to the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins, as a modern-day bible for creative leadership and taking a business to the next level by “getting the right people on the bus.”
My favorite takeaways and associated quotes:
“Getting the team right is the necessary precursor to getting the ideas right.”
The story matters.
“For all the care you put into artistry, visual polish frequently doesn’t matter if you are getting the story right.”
“It was unthinkable that we not do our best.”
“The silver linking of a major meltdown is that it gives managers a chance to send clear signals to employees about the company’s values, which inform the role each individual is expected to play.”
“…without the critical ingredient that is candor, there can be no trust. And without trust, creative collaboration is not possible.”
“The responsibility for finding and fixing problems should be assigned to every employee, from the most senior manager to the lowliest person on the production line.”
I highly recommend this book to leaders in creative companies and those just generally interested in the “behind-the-scenes” business and insider stories of Pixar Animation.