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Creativity, Inc. - Ed Catmull


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[amazonsearch]Creativity, Inc.[/amazonsearch]

 

This might not seem like a business book at first, but it is one of the best kind. Ed Catmull is an extremely smart and introspective manager and engineer (he invented texture-mapping!) who tells us how he very deliberately built an excellent business (Pixar, for those who don't know who Catmull is). No management consultant platitudes here. It's very interesting that he focuses mostly on his mistakes and what went wrong rather than only talk about the glory. There's also some interesting backstory on Steve Jobs' strengths and weaknesses (he was Pixar's largest shareholder, though not super involved in the day-to-day, mostly big strategic decisions).

 

I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I've read 200 pages since last night and that's quite enough to make me recommend the book.

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I thought this was just OK.  Interesting to learn about Pixar, but I don't think I took too much away from the book.  Most important take away was his focus on process and constant improvement.

 

I wouldn't say I've learned a lot of non-obvious business things so far either. But to me, that doesn't make it bad. A lot of the same simple principles are worth revisiting over and over again, as Buffett does in his writings.

 

And I'm very interested in the culture inside Pixar and how art is created (both the creative aspect and technology), so I guess I'm the target audience.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I can imagine that animators and software engineers have huge leverage at companies like that. once you have a skilled and experienced team, that is very hard to replicate, and the success of the company basicly hinges on it. So i can see how they could squeeze most of the profits away if they work together as a team to get higher pay. Obviously doesn't make it right.

 

I guess what I mean is, untill I read about what these animators were actually making, I am holding off judgement for now.

 

There is this mentality that people blindly want to jump executive's throat and point at them as an example how unfair the world is these days.

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From the Introduction:

 

What makes Pixar special is that we acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our views; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and that, when we come across a problem, we marshal all of our energies to solve it. This, more than any elaborate party or turreted workstation, is why I love coming to work in the morning. It is what motivates me and gives me a definite sense of mission.

The most compelling mechanisms to me are those that deal with uncertainty, instability, lack of candor, and the things we cannot see. I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know – not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur. I believe that 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, they must pay attention to and engage with anything that creates fear. Moreover, successful leaders embrace the reality that their models may be wrong or incomplete. Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it.

 

The Introduction alone imo is worth the cost of the book! ;)

 

Gio

 

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  • 3 months later...

I quite liked this one (despite just reading The Halo Effect :) ) and I will recommend it to people, especially if they haven't read very much about business and uncertainty etc.

 

My favourite parts of the book were the discussions on failure, process and in general dealing with an uncertain future with a probabilistic mindset, something which probably resonates with a few over here.

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