Creativity, Inc.

A nice lesson in creative people’s management

A review of Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

The last book I finished is Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, and it’s so inspiring I had to tell you about it.

Who’s Catmull ? The other founder of Pixar. Everyone has heard about Lasseter, the creative, but Catmull is the geek, the nerd, the computer scientist from the 70’s (remember the time when computers took half a room) who dreamt to do an entire movie with a computer, and who achieved just that with Toy Story. Catmull is the tech guy that allowed the creatives to pull their magic from behind the curtain. So he manages them, and he learned by doing, and he’s telling us in this surprising book how to never smother creativity.

He speaks candidly about the mistakes made, the beginnings pre-Steve Jobs, then with him, then with Disney too, the cultural differences of both companies – and the profitability differences – at the time he and Lasseter took over, the fear of change, the delegation of problem solving to your teams (inspired by a Japanese technique), the importance of feedback on projects and not people, in a nutshell, a lot of management techniques he tailored for creative people but which frankly would work as well on so many other types of people for the most part (OK, not all techniques, not on all types of people, but still).

The book is well written, well structured, and the cherry on the cake is that you get to read about all the Pixar characters we all love (even the lamp of the logo). Of course, there is a very moving part about Steve Jobs (as in any management book written after his passing). A very nice read indeed. Catmull even goes so far as tto compile for us at the end of the book his lessons learned and tried techniques. I still suggest you to take notes while reading, it’s that good.

After this one, I’m on a roll on management books and am reading How Google works, by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, at the moment. I’m about one-third through, and will probably tell you about it soon, it’s also very good.

And you, what have you read lately ?

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