“Our purpose was not merely to build a studio that made hit films but to foster a creative culture that would continually ask questions.” – Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios
“Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Cars,” “Finding Nemo,” “Inside Out” – the pillars of the Pixar empire that brought so much joy and many smiles to your family and friends – can make storytelling magic seem effortless. But Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull makes it clear in his book Creativity, Inc. that the company’s films don’t happen without effort.
Catmull offers personal insights on creativity and how to encourage it in the workplace. Creativity, he explains, isn’t a lucky accident at the studio known for its unique form of storytelling and movie making . Rather, long before audiences catch a glimpse of the first trailer, Pixar takes a deliberate, measured approach to the creative process.
Failure is encouraged – embraced, even – and thanks to a meritocratic work environment, ideas can come from anywhere. Catmull is a true engineer with an analytical mind, digging into problems to find and fix the cause rather than applying patches to hide the symptoms. Throughout the book, as he tells story after story, he builds out Pixar’s core principles. Here are his seven core principles for a creative culture:
- Quality is the best business plan.
- Failure isn’t a necessary evil.
- People are more important than ideas.
- Prepare for the unknown.
- Do not confuse the process with the goal.
- Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.
- Give good notes.
Even people who don’t work in creative businesses are expected to be creative every hour of the day. This book gives you hints on how to master the art of creativity so you can prosper in a new world filled with technology and knowledge.
“Here’s what we all know, deep down, even though we might wish it weren’t true,” Catmull writes. “Change is going to happen, whether we like it or not. Some people see random, unforeseen events as something to fear. I am not one of those people. To my mind, randomness is not just inevitable; it is part of the beauty of life. Rather than fear randomness, I believe we can make choices to see it for what it is and to let it work for us. The unpredictable is the ground on which creativity occurs.”