by Ed Catmull
Managing a creative business is never easy.
I did it for 25 years and I can say firsthand that a creative company is all about culture. And that creative ideas are as fragile as soap bubbles.
But what if you could spend a few hours extracting the wisdom from the CEO of one of the most successful creative companies on the planet?
Welcome to Creativity, Inc.
Ed Catmull wrote this back in 2014 when he was the President of Pixar and Disney Animation. Pixar has had an unbroken record of box office successes. There is a magic at work there – and a large part of that magic is the way Catmull manages his creative staff.
He believes every company stifles its talented people in a myriad of unseen ways. He even tells a story about how a long boardroom table hindered creativity in his office until they figured out the problem it created.
More than anything, Catmull understands that fear is the main obstacle to creativity. In a fear-based culture, people will avoid risk and default to safe behaviour. Catmull has uncovered brilliant ways to uncouple fear from failure. As he says, management’s job is not to prevent risk, but to build in the ability to recover.
Maybe one of his biggest insights is that conservatism creeps into a successful company. It makes people hesitant to change. Yet creative progress demands change. I think this alone is one of the least explored aspects of managing a company.
Above all, Ed Catmull has a very digestible way of dispensing his extraordinary wisdom. It’s not a book, it’s a bible.