Thriller or filler? Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration. By Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace.

Published by Random House

Ed Catmull founded Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Creativity, Inc follows two narratives; one around Catmull’s dream of creating the first computer animated movie and what happens once you achieve that dream, and one around the lessons learned creating an enduring creative culture. It is both a manual and a story.

The first, of relentlessly following your dream, is fascinating. Familiar names like Jobs, Lucas and Disney interact with each other and add their own chapter to the journeys that simultaneously end and start with the launch of Toy Story.

The second for me is even more interesting. For anyone who leads or has responsibility for fostering a creative culture, there is so much that is familiar and it is fascinating to see how Pixar and Catmull address their creative challenges.

The importance of storytelling, the value of failure, the iterative process, a culture of candidness and one where taking risks is safe are all addressed. Many of these you will have come across before but it is interesting to see them all through one person’s vision.

Catmull talks a lot about randomness, chance and change, and the challenge they present in any creative endeavour.

It is a thought-provoking read for anyone who has responsibility for a creative culture and a great story of the building of the creative powerhouse that is Pixar. Long live Woody and Buzz.

Simon Shaw, CCO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, London

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