“Creativity, Inc.” Gives Inside Look at Pixar’s Innovative Leadership Success

Oct 12, 2017 | Books We Love

There are some businesses that exude creativity, innovation and originality, and you can’t help but be motivated by them. That’s exactly the feeling adults and children leave with after seeing a Pixar movie. In the book “Creativity, Inc., Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration,” business leaders are taken inside Pixar Animation Studios to learn how a culture of creativity and innovation has fueled one of the most successful businesses in the film industry.

Pixar Animation Studios’ Co-Founder Ed Catmull takes readers on a journey from Pixar’s humble beginnings to producing some of the biggest box-office smashes, like Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and Up. The secret ingredient to Pixar’s success? The creative culture that Catmull built—even if it meant defying convention.

Walking the reader through meetings and “Braintrust” sessions, Catmull reveals some of Pixar’s key techniques for success, including:

  • 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 is the cost of fixing them.
  • A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.

In the final chapter, “Thoughts for Managing a Creative Culture,” Catmull offers 33 sage pieces of sage advice for innovative leadership, including how to deal with fear and failure and how to protect  new ideas. He also offers that these ideas should be considered starting points rather than end points to be achieved. The ultimate goal in any business, he points out, is “making the product great.”



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