A colleague of mine, Ronald Vonk, recommended this book to me. It is a book by one of the founders of Pixar, you know from all those fantastic computer animated movies. At pixar they created an continuous changing environment where creativity should excel. It is a very interesting read if you are interested in management books that are not to heavy on theories. Ed explains very well and entertaining how they went from a small company with a vision to a huge company with a vision.
Without to much spoilers, you really need to reed the book yourself, I want to mention a few things that I remembered after reading the book.
The team is more important than the idea’s or the talent of the separate people. Take care of the team, make sure they function well and give them responsibility. Make them feel proud when they finished what they wanted to create. Always put people first.
This is something I ran into in my normal working life as well. I do think you have to enable the teams to adept and to stay as a good team. The challenge is to get others in to learn and later on replace team members or start their own team.
We would never make a film that way again. It is the managements job to take the long view, to intervene and protect our people from their willingness to pursue excellence at all costs. Not to do so would be irresponsible.
This was a remark after delivering a movie under great time stress. They pulled through, but at a cost.
Braintrust – Group of people giving feedback and ideas for improvements on a certain idea. Important is that the feedback is meant to improve the idea, not to bully the person(s) the idea originated from. It is very important that everybody is open to the feedback and not defensive. In the end it is not the braintrust that makes a decision, it is the person in charge for the product. Still this group of people is kind of the first user and therefore the feedback should not be taken to lightly.
This was something I had a long thought about, my conclusion was that I am not really good at this. I often do feel that my ideas are my babies that need to be defended. First persuade me I am wrong, o sorry, an idea that someone had was not the best.
I did not want to become a manager, I just wanted to be one of the boys and do research. When we became bigger I realised I became more important and new people did not see me as a peer or one of the guys. I realised things were starting to get hidden from me. It is no problem as long as you trust people will tell someone else that will tell the most important things to me again.
Couldn’t agree more.
You can have this very nice polished finely tuned locomotive. People think that being the driver of the train is giving them power. They feel that driving the train in the end is shaping the company. The truth is, it’s not. Driving the train does not set it’s course. The real job is laying the track.
This was an eye opener a well, something you know but is hard to put into words.
At pixar they do not have contracts. They feel that employment contracts both hurt the employer as well as the employee. If someone had a problem with the company, there wasn’t much point in complaining because they were under contract. If someone didn’t perform well, on the other hand, there was no point in confronting them about it; their contract simply wouldn’t be renewed, which might be the first time they heard about their need to improve. The whole system discouraged and devaluated day-to-day communication and was culturally dysfunctional. But since everybody was used to it, they were blind to the problem.
This is a long one, have thought about it for a while. I think for now I would be to scared to do this in a company, still I like the idea.
What is the point of hiring smart people if you don’t empower them to fix what’s broken? Often to much time is lost in making sure no mistakes will be made. Often however, it just takes a few days to find solutions for mistakes.
Keeps coming back to the same point, a manager is a facilitator, nothing more nothing less. It is a very important role, just like all the others. Think about it, it is the team, the complete team.
One thought on “Creativity, INC. – by Ed Catmull”
I’m glad to hear you followed through on that recommendation! I knew it would interest you. This book was a joy to read, even getting me emotional at points (the Steve Jobs stuff is also quite moving). It’s one of my favourite ‘management’ or ‘self-improvement’ books. The story of Pixar and Ed is a great story in it’s own right, and the experience and lessons Ed shares are very useful to anyone running a team or company, or working with other creative people in general. I think I’ll re-read this many times…
Anyway, I loved reading your comments on this book!
Comments are closed.