Book Talk: Creativity, Inc.


Book coverFrom Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, comes an incisive book about creativity in business. 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 to 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.”

After earning his Ph.D. at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, Catmull 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.

The AGF Professional Development Affinity Group hosted a  Book Talk to discuss Creativity, Inc. and how we can use Catmull’s philosophies to manage innovation that leads to more effective grantmaking.

To prepare for the Book Talk, we recommended the following:

Purchase the entire book: Amazon hardcover, Amazon Kindle version
Visit the publisher’s website to read the first couple of chapters here
Watch interviews with Ed Catmull here and here
Read the Creativity, Inc. Speed Summary here

“Too often, we seek to keep the status quo working. This is a book about breaking it.”—Seth Godin

Le Tour des Foundations - Complete Logo 3

This was the second stop on the Le Tour des Foundations.