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Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  81,181 ratings  ·  4,919 reviews
“What does it mean to manage well?”
From Ed Catmull, co-founder (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 Dan Heath. Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who striv
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Random House
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Ross Blocher
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For those unfamiliar with Ed Catmull, he is best known as the president of both Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. Full disclosure: I work for the latter. Before I came to work at Disney, I knew of Ed Catmull as a technological innovator in the field of computer graphics and animation. He was essential in the development of the alpha channel, z-buffer, texture mapping, and a number of other technologies that make digital animation possible. After years of problem solving in the technical space, ...more
Tim Adler
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book is so disappointing. I had hoped it would take one behind the scenes of such storytelling genius as UP and TOY STORY. Instead, it's a bunch of platitudes which could be bullet pointed in a few pages, which indeed they are at the end. Most of it is common sense: rigid pyramid structures in organisations are bad; everybody should feel free to contribute; and, get this, if you're planning to write a feature film, it's good to do some research. Like, duh. At one point, Catmull -- who, to h ...more
da AL
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People first, story second: great advice for managing a business. Interesting to hear Pixar's history told first-hand, as was Catmull's interactions with Steve Jobs. Audiobook narrator is super good! ...more
Otis Chandler
Recommend this highly for anyone who works in a technology or creative field. Pixars track records is unparalleled - 14 movies and all of them have been massive hits. I had two important takeaways from this book: how to build a great, lasting culture, and how to build a creative company.

Catmull's philosophy both around creating movies and managing his company, is to be relentless about remembering that he doesn't know what he doesn't know. In creating a movie, you don't know what it will be when
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration is by Ed Catmull, the founder of Pixar. As his career progressed and Pixar continued to grow, Ed learned the type of leader he wanted to be and how to foster a culture that perpetually promotes and encourages creativity. He shares many characteristics of such a culture in this book.

Ed knew early on he wanted to work in computer animation and make a movie by doing so. He was enthralled with Walt Disney as a
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this because I'm an artist, but I loved it because I'm a manager. Whether you're a computer science history buff, a fan of Pixar or Disney, an aspiring animator, an entrepreneur, an artist, or manager, you'll get something great out of this book. One of the best business books I've read in a long time. ...more
Peter (on hiatus)
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Creativity is the story of Pixar and its founders Steve Jobs, John Lasseter and Ed Catmull and how they managed to establish Pixar as a thriving business. The road to business success is never straightforward, with twists, turns and mountains to climb. The fate of Pixar and their first film Toy Story, are inseparable. The story tracks the creation of Toy Story - the world's first computer-generated animation film. Following the first showing, their hearts dropped. They had achieved a wonder
Mar 13, 2014 rated it liked it
This book was equal parts "Management Theory Text" and "Memoirs of an Unconventional CEO" with a healthy dose of "My Business Relationship with Steve Jobs" and while that may sound a bit scattered or even dry, this work is neither. Catmull manages to sprinkle the above seasonings into the broth in precisely the correct measurements to create an insightful and enjoyable stew.
Often mentioned in the text is his continued education, often through trial and error, about effectively managing creative
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was reading this more for the creativity angle than the story-of-a-company angle, so I definitely skimmed some of the Pixar story. I read bits of this to the group of library faculty and staff that I supervise, and we had a great conversation about our current and upcoming "ugly babies."

"Originality is fragile. And, in its first moments, it's often far from pretty. This is why I call early mock-ups of our films "ugly babies. They are not beautiful, miniature versions of the adults they will g
Po Po
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it
What this book is: a managerial how-to on fostering creativity, productivity and work/ life balance in the office.

What this book is not: a guidebook of creative inspiration for regular everyday DIYers who work alone.

* * *

The ideas are cut and dry and pretty simplistic for being, ostensibly, a manager's book on creativity.

Although this book isn't a memoir, there is a very brief gloss-over on Ed Catmull's family, childhood and education.

There are interesting details on Pixar's promising yet rocky
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pixar reinvented animation and the workplace.

I’ll admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for Pixar. Not only have I loved their movies beginning with Toy Story, but I was lucky enough to see that movie in its nascent stages when I visited this then unknown company many years ago. Little did I know that they would change animation forever, I just thought it was a neat place with really creative people. Back then, sitting in a meeting room and having a Great Dane and a Dalmatian come in and sit
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, business
A wonderful and insightful story, loved everything about this book and I am definitely buying a hard back copy so I can underline some of the lessons. Ed is a great story teller and a pretty good psychologist. Many business books are straight to the point :"Take risks!" "Believe in yourself" etc., but Creative, Inc. dives even deeper into the true meaning of "leadership". ...more
Joy D
Ed Catmull offers insight into Pixar, how it started, and how they keep creativity alive. It examines their acquisition by Disney, and how they ensured this corporate giant did not stifle their inventive methods. One of the primary lessons is that fear is the biggest inhibitor of creativity. It also includes fascinating anecdotes about how some of their movies transformed, often significantly, between concept and release.

It includes a brief history of the quality movement, going back in time to
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of this books that you find yourself referencing in conversations on a regular basis. It's a mistake to think of this as a book for managing a workforce that needs to be creative, or a way to make your company more creative. For me, it was more about that messy business of leading and managing people. It's messy due to the different personalities and the mixed perspectives each person has. Add in that there is so much information which is naturally hidden to each person and the situa ...more
Heino Colyn
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-on-kindle
I’ve always liked Pixar, what they do and how they go about doing it, so I was pretty excited to read this book. It contains a lot of valuable information, but I think the best thing about it is the way that it conveys this information. The majority of the things I keep thinking about after finishing the book were actually just casually mentioned as part of an interaction. Love that. Also, the sections on the Braintrust and Notes Day were especially interesting, not to mention Ed showing a diffe ...more
Jurgen Appelo
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring story of an amazing company. Read it!
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Insightful and earnestly written, the book is packed with interesting anecdotes and philosophy with actual substance. It serves as an inspiration that a healthy, thriving work culture is possible and can constantly be improved. His never ending determination to create good work and foster a good company is admirable and should be replicated to any company, but especially those in the creative field.
Chip Huyen
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I knew I’d enjoy the book from the very first few pages. Maybe because Ed comes from the same education background as me (computer science with an interest in storytelling) that I feel like he speaks my language.

The main takeaway from the book for me is that creativity is not an art but an incremental process. Ed believes that anyone can be creative as long they spend time to improve their process and be disciplined enough to follow it.

He stressed the importance of integrity — from his interview
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books-read
Reading this book was like sitting down and talking with a beloved father/ mentor. I feel like I've been through such an incredible journey. I've learnt so much, not just about Pixar and the ingenious creative process, but also about human dynamics, how to think about and treat people who work with and for you, and also the reasons behind all of those things ... and why they are so important, from a business perspective, but also from the human perspective!

I feel like I have taken away so much f
Tangled in Text
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I want a manager like Ed Catmull. His way of looking at the full picture is mesmerizing. He does not just look at a single problem or a mistake, but all the pieces that lead to it. He'll change an entire process of creating before he blames the one person who made the mistake to guarantee it won't happen again. I loved the simple changes he made of not assigning seats because it made those in the back of a conference room feel less important and therefore were less likely to share their ideas. H ...more
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
In trying to come up with descriptions of how this book is written, I keep thinking of the word "earnest". Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar and Disney Animation, comes across as an earnest guy trying to do the best job he can. And as part of his earnest approach to running an animation company, he and his team came up with a number of ways to try to ensure his employees didn't lose their mojo, their creativity, their inspiration. This book is a description of the things they tried. What this b ...more
Shehab Hamad
Apr 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Fun (if obvious) insights into the Pixar story including a few entertaining Steve Jobs cameos! Main take-aways for me were the bits on candor and the "brain trust". ...more
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Look Heino, I finally finished the book!
Andrej Karpathy
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I appreciate what Ed has tried to do with this book, and I'm a fan of his and Pixar. It was an enjoyable read, but if I was to complain about something it's that I felt the book was trying to be contrarian quite often in a slightly forced way. I ended up noticing a formula repeated many times:

In this situation most people would think X... (I didn't, and I wasn't fully sold that most would),
but I think Y (I agree and I've heard something similar said several times before).

Of course, there was a
Mar 15, 2014 added it
The book is presented as a “how to” on inspiring a creative culture and doing away with anything that hinders the creative process. While giving a great behind-the-scenes look at the production steps that went into favorite animated films, it also provides some valuable tidbits of advice for leaders.

Whether you work in a creative company or one where creativity is valued, you’ll find detailed discussions around the following topics useful:

* Encourage all employees to express themselves freely w
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book wasn't what I expected but it worked. I really liked this. The author, co-founder of Pixar, is extremely passionate about animation and he lets you know the huge role he played in the way computer animation has changed the old way of doing things. I found it funny that the old guys at Disney didn't even want to give computer animation and also computer editing, a courtesy nod, because they knew their craft (the old way) and didn't want to change. I think they completely missed the boat ...more
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
My first book of 2017 is done!! This was a great book to kick this year off. By the end I was getting quite emotional. (The final chapter of the book is a tribute to Steve Jobs and all he did for Pixar.) It's such a breath of fresh air to hear stories from such an amazing leader. How Ed fostered creativity and created a safe haven for honesty was truly revolutionary. I loved hearing the stories behind some of the movies. All in all, a fantastic book about what it means to lead and learn. ...more
NaTasha Clever
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It starts off slowly, but this book turned out to be one of the most fascinating reads. Besides the incredibly interesting process behind Pixar’s evolution and the creation of animated films, the amazing way that this company cultivated a culture of communication and creativity is inspiring. I’d love to see some of these strategies applied with education.
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, read-in-2020
One part memoir, two parts business management guide, Creativity, Inc. is Ed Catmull's love letter to the computer animation and animated movie industries. Catmull is best known as one of the co-founders of Pixar Studios and is currently the president of both Pixar and Disney Animation. What is less known about Catmull is how many important contributions to the animation technology used today he made as a computer science engineer. Catmull paved the way for computer graphics by creating a lot of ...more
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-book-list
Like many of you, I've been a big fan of Pixar. The way they have built a staff culture that pushes against the status quo allowing them to pursue new and innovative ideas is inspiring. This book helps unlock the secret to how they achieve this and how they empower leaders to accomplish it. I highly recommend this book to any person currently breathing.

Here are a few of my takeaways from Ed Catmull, CEO of Pixar, the author of Creativity, Inc.

On Leadership:
* In big organizations there are adva
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Edwin Earl "Ed" Catmull, PhD is a computer scientist and current president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios, and Pixar Animation Studios. As a computer scientist, Catmull has contributed to many important developments in computer graphics. ...more

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