The president of Pixar Animation Studios describes the making of the creative culture that has produced Toy Story, Finding Nemo and other award-winning movies.
“Unleashing creativity requires that we loosen the controls, accept risk, trust our colleagues, work to clear the path for them, and pay attention to anything that creates fear,” writes Catmull—with the assistance of Los Angeles Magazine editor at large Wallace—in a superb debut intended for managers in all fields of endeavor. The author grew up idolizing Walt Disney and earned degrees in physics and computer science at the University of Utah, where he encountered the collegial, collaborative approach of interactive computer graphics pioneer Ivan Sutherland. This inspired the community Catmull would build to help create Pixar’s iconic films. While his book recounts Pixar’s rise and his long working relationship with Steve Jobs, it does so in service to the author’s overriding goal of explaining principles he put into place to protect Pixar from forces that ruin many businesses after enormous successes like Toy Story (1995), the first computer-animated feature film. Catmull’s challenge was to develop a sustainable culture that allowed people to do their best work and removed impediments to creativity—“uncertainty, instability, lack of candor, and the things we cannot see.” In time, he learned the importance of putting people first, and getting the team right, in order to get the idea right; and of asking tough questions: Where are we still deluded? How do we think about failures and fears? “We believe ideas—and thus, films—only become great when they are challenged and tested,” he writes. He takes readers inside candid discussions and retreats at which participants, assuming the early versions of movies are bad, explore ways to improve them. Unusually rich in ideas, insights and experiences, the book celebrates the benefits of an open, nurturing work environment.
An immensely readable and rewarding book that will challenge and inspire readers to make their workplaces hotbeds of creativity.