Creativity, Inc. – Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull

If you know me, you know I love movies. I could binge-watch all day and that’s totally what I’ve been doing during quarantine but this book opened my eyes to the film-making process and all the creativity that happens within. My love and respect for the industry have increased immensely! I also learned a lot about the unseen forces that stand in the way of inspiration and that there is no easy rule or answer to keep creativity alive.

The thesis of this book is that there are many blocks to creativity, but there are active steps we can take to protect the creative process. Creativity is about trying new ways, seeking inspiration from various places and people, finding your voice and hearing others, knowing your limitations, thinking big and small, being open to failure, and so much more. Additionally, there are a lot of great tips on managing and working with people. One of my favorite lines in the book is about trusting others. Trusting others doesn’t mean that they won’t make mistakes. It means that if they do (or if you do), you trust they will act to help solve it. I think this applies to everything (beyond business) and thought it was worth pointing out.

Highlights

  1. The best managers must acknowledge and make room for what they do not know.
  2. Managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them. They must accept risk; they must trust the people they work with and strive to clear the path for them; and always, pay attention to and engage with anything that creates fear.
  3. Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it.
  4. Unhindered communication is key, no matter what your position.
  5. Finding a solution is a multi-step endeavor. Find ways to see what’s working and not working. Ed has been searching his whole life for better ways of seeing.
  6. When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are.
  7. Animation can take you to places that you’ve never been to.
  8. Ask questions that intrigue you even when they confuse you,
  9. Hire people who are smarter than you,
  10. Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening,
  11. Any hard problem should have many good minds simultaneously trying to solve it.
  12. Decide what you need to focus on.
  13. You don’t have to ask permission to take responsibility.
  14. Self-assessment and constructive criticism have to occur at all levels of a company.
  15. Being on the lookout for problems was not the same as seeing problems.
  16. The point is to foster a culture that would seek to keep our sightlines clear, even as we accepted that we were often trying to engage with and fix what we could not see.
  17. When you can feel the agony of choice, you have a movie.
  18. It is easy to say you want talented people, and you do, but the way those people interact with one another is the real key It’s better to focus on how a team is performing, not on the talents of the individuals within it. A good team is made up of people who complement each other.
  19. Which do you think is more valuable: good ideas or good people? Ideas come from people. therefore, people are more important than ideas.
  20. A movie is not one idea, it’s a multitude of them.
  21. You need to show your people that you mean it when you said while efficiency was a goal, quality is the goal.
  22. We should trust in people, not processes. The process has no agenda or taste. It’s a tool and framework. We need to take more responsibility and ownership of our own work, our need for self-discipline, and our goals.
  23. The process either makes you or unmakes you.
  24. We must always be alert to shifting dynamics because our future depends on them.
  25. Lack of candor, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments. People who would feel obligated, to be honest somehow feel freer when asked for their candor; they have a choice about whether to give it and so when they do, it’s genuine.
  26. Ideas when tested and challenged, become great.
  27. Focus on the problem at hand, not the person. Blame doesn’t solve problems.
  28. Braintrust meetings have no agenda. It’s supposed to help and it’s where the movie is born. Scenes, characters, lighting, emotions, lines, gestures, and everything is discussed at these meetings.
  29. No matter what happens, always tell the trust. Rare candid feedback is important and without it, films would suffer.
  30. A good note says what is wrong, what is missing, what isn’t clear, and what makes no sense. A good note is offered at a timely moment when it’s not too late to fix the problem. A good note doesn’t make demands and it doesn’t have to include a proposed fix. A good note is specific. You’re building as you’re breaking down.
  31. Candor isn’t cruel. It does not destroy.
  32. Regardless of what we say, mistakes feel embarrassing. It hurts but we need to think about failure differently. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new and as such, should be seen as valuable. Without mistakes, you’d have no originality.
  33. Fail early and fail fast.
  34. If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it. And, for leaders especially, this strategy – trying to avoid failure by outthinking it – dooms you to fail.
  35. Being open about problems is the first step toward learning from them.
  36. When experimentation is seen as necessary and productive, not as a frustrating waste of time, people will enjoy their work – even when it is confounding them
  37. If you don’t use what’s gone wrong to educate yourself and your colleagues, then you’ll have missed an opportunity.
  38. We must remember that failure gives us chances to grow, and we ignore those chances at our own peril.
  39. Create a culture that rewards those who lift not just our stock prices but our aspirations as well.
  40. When working with people: Be patient. Be authentic. And be consistent. The trust will come.
  41. If anyone group/department “wins,” we lose. In a healthy culture, all constituencies recognize the importance of balancing competing desire – they want to be heard, but they don’t have to win.
  42. View conflict as essential, because that’s how we know the best ideas will be tested and survive.
  43. Change is going to happen, whether we like it or not. Some people see random, unforeseen events as something to fear. Don’t see it that way. See it as an opportunity. The unpredictable is the ground on which creativity occurs.
  44. I think we can all relate to the idea of ​​wanting to get away from everything.
  45. Make a list of what’s wrong. You will find that most of the issues group into two or three larger all-encompassing problems. Having a finite list of problems is much better than having an illogical feeling that everything is wrong.
  46. Life should not be easy. We’re meant to push ourselves and try new things – which will definitely make us feel uncomfortable.
  47. The person who can’t change his or her mind is dangerous.
  48. When a bad thing happens, people will draw conclusions that might include conspiracy or forces acting against them, or conversely, if a good thing happens, that they are brilliant and deserving.
  49. People of Pixar did not achieve creative success by simply clinging on what used to work.
  50. When humans see things that challenge our mental models, we tend not just to resist them but to ignore them. This is called confirmation bias.
  51. We’ve found that when we are accurate, the audience can tel. It just feels right. This is why the people working on the films, go to do their research. They went to France and visited high-end French restaurants so Ratatouille could be more realistic! Research is so important.
  52. It is possible, with practice, to teach your brain to observe something clearly without letting your preconceptions kick in.
  53. Keep your brains nimble and push yourself to try things you haven’t before. As children, we are more open because we need to be open to learn. This shouldn’t stop.
  54. Paying attention to the present moment without letting your thoughts and ideas about the past and the future get in the way is essential. It makes room for the views of others. We begin to trust and listen and hear them. It makes us willing to experiment and it makes it safe to try something that may fail.
  55. Include people in your problems, not just your solutions.
  56. Good ideas can come from anywhere, so everyone must feel empowered to speak up.
  57. Give people the time, and they will come up with ideas.
  58. To keep a creative culture vibrant, we must not be afraid of constant uncertainty. We must accept it, just as we accept the weather. Uncertainty and change are life’s constants. And that’s the fun part.
  59. Easy is not the goal, excellence is.
There is always a reason to believe that the next thing you will try might be the thing that finally works.
*I take no credit for any of these points.

Recommend me a book

No horror books, please!!