As a creative professional, I leapt at the opportunity to read Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull (with Amy Wallace), not only because I openly harbor a longtime fascination with Pixar, but also because it is refreshing to see a business book both coming from and directed at the creative professions.
This book is a fascinating look at the birth and continuing growth of Pixar Animation Studio from the unique point of view of author Ed Catmull, one of its founders and currently the President of both Pixar and Disney Animation. But it is most valuable for its insight into how to build a sustainable creative environment. Catmull takes us into his own evolution as a leader navigating the pitfalls of building a new company, constructing a culture that supports creative innovation, and finding ways to sustain that culture through success, failure, growth, and change.
Catmull illustrates his points with anecdotes about the making of many of Pixar’s films, which makes the book very accessible since most readers have probable seen at least one Pixar film. His final chapter, an appendix entitled “Starting Points: Thoughts for Managing a Creative Culture”, summarizes the lessons he’s learned running Pixar and is a manifesto unto itself which should be printed on giant posters and hung in every creative business.
Creativity, Inc. is a fantastic book about business leadership and fostering a creative environment, and as a creative professional, it left me feeling thoroughly inspired. I highly recommend it.
Following are links to discussion questions and supplemental material for a pro book club discussion of this book.
Unfortunately, there is no official reading guide for Creativity, Inc. Instead, I recommend using my Discussion Questions Resources as a starting point for crafting your own questions for the book. A library in Canada came up with some good examples of discussion questions for this book as well. (Scroll down to the end of the page.)
- “Why Pixar President Ed Catmull’s New Book is One of the Best Reads on Creative Leadership”, Forbes, 7/11/14
- The book’s official website, which includes:
- An infographic: Build a Successful Creative Culture with 7 Core Principles from Pixar
- A link to Catmull’s Flipboard, Ed Catmull’s Guide to Creativity in Business
- See Catmull speak on why communication should know no boundaries in this Fast Company interview
- Two articles from Harvard Business Review:
- “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity” by Ed Catmull, September 2008
- “Managing Creativity: Lessons from Pixar and Disney Animation” by David A. Price, April 2014
- Some of Catmull’s “Thoughts for Managing a Creative Culture” from the book’s appendix are helpfully bullet pointed here
- Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling, an unofficial list of storytelling tips originally tweeted in 2011 by former Pixar story artist Emma Coats that went viral
- To learn more about the the unique creative environment of Pixar, check out my Completely Unofficial Pixar Master Class.