The Nyla Winter 2023 book club selection is Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. In this NY Times bestseller, Catmull draws on his experience co-founding Pixar studios and revolutionizing animation to explore the idea of innovation and how to create an open, nurturing work environment that fosters creativity.
Catmull takes the readers with him on the journey from PhD student focused on computer graphics and animation at the University of Utah to co-founding Pixar studios with his long-time dream of creating the first computer-animated movie to seeing his dreams come true years later with the release of Toy Story forever changing the world of animation.
Creativity is just part of why Pixar and Catmull have been so successful. The inspirational management strategies and philosophies Catmull employed at Pixar have been a recipe for success and profitability for decades now. In his book, Catmull shares some of these philosophies and explains why they’ve been so impactful.
First and foremost, Catmull knows the importance of having a good team. He writes “Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea. 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.” In other words, hire the right people and trust them to do what they do best.
Many of his philosophies are focused on creating an atmosphere where innovation and creativity flourish. He believes that “the cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them” and “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.” He clearly believes in getting out of his employees’ way and letting his teams explore their creativity without constraints.
Creativity, Inc. is a thoroughly enjoyable, engaging read that not only provides insight into Catmull’s success and the tech involved,, but details how his open-minded, team-first management approach can and should be implemented in companies in all industries.