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Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmul

Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration

Book Review

· Organisational,Updates - News

This book is for those of you interested in how to create a culture of practical creativity. Really at the end of the day, culture needs work, buy-in from staff, mechanisms and systems to keep it on track and constant watering... that is what I loved about this book...the reality of what it takes to be the best and how creativity is embedded into the process.

It's also a perfect example of the story telling that Pixar are known for starting with the early struggles setting up the organisation and the learning experiences that shaped Catmull’s philosophy, approach and insights, e.g. the importance of a conducive innovation environment, hiring the right people who’re smarter than you, etc.

He then moves onto the foundations and barriers to creativity with key insights into - Getting uncomfortable through honesty, failure and change; Seeing our blind spots and the use of mental models; Protecting the new with a great chapter called "The Hungry Beast and the Ugly Baby" and the Importance of discovery and uncertainty.

But the sections that were most useful for me were about building and sustaining a creative culture with great advice on how to broaden a viewpoint through research and fields trips, experiments and a true positive approach to post project evaluation. He also introduces this idea of a BrainsTrust (I've already stolen this one!) where to help managers get feedback once they are immersed in projects and can't see what's really going on. The BT is a work in progress meeting with honest feedback that is not directed at the person but the project (and this takes everyone to be on the same page and not be attached to the ideas.) There is also the annual Notes Day where they used a typical 'lets get feedback approach' but on steroids with all staff involved in the lead up, the day itself and then the implementation of ideas.

While this book is not about Steve Jobs, its does give some great glimpses of him and a lovely moving afterword on this amazing and challenging character. He is also very deliberate in the way he shares about the another great people who set up this company and the way they came into it or were employed...the question of how to recruit the right people was also discussed.

The honest reflection of the failures of films, staff and processes is probably the most interesting part.

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