From Ed Catmull, cofounder (with Steve Jobs and John
Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, comes an incisive book about creativity
in business—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and
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 into 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 cofounder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of
the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”
For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the
world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy,
Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo,
The Incredibles, Up, and WALL-E, which have gone on to set
box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the
storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity; in some ways,
Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is.
Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made
Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable.
As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the
first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a PhD student at the
University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and
then 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:
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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.
Do not assume that general agreement
will lead to change—it takes substantial energy to move a group, even when all
are on board.