Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

There are success stories and then there is Pixar’s story. Over the past three decades, Pixar has become the epitome of success. Their success seems so effortless and even inevitable to us. While so many other companies, especially technology-centered companies, fail to survive a few years before they are bought, sold, or folded, Pixar has thrived over and over again. It almost seems like magic.

What is Pixar doing? What makes them so good? This is the question Ed Catmull tries to answer in the most modest way possible.

Catmull is one of the founders of Pixar. Once a division of Lucasfilm, Pixar grew to become the most outstanding animation studio in the world. It got to this position not by luck or simply with Steve Job’s money (though it sure helped), Pixar became a powerhouse because it believed in its people and it believed in its mission. Running any company is no easy task. Running a successful company is hard. Running a successful company that creatively innovates on a daily basis is just unbelievable.

There are a lot of leadership and business books out there. Most are written by powerful CEO’s that ran Fortune 500 companies, technology firms or investment banks. In those worlds, there are a lot of tried and true methods, but Pixar was blazing the trail. They were creating the rules as they came and tearing up the rule book as they left. From an outsider’s perspective, it just seems like they should have failed long ago, and that is why this book is so great. You get to learn how the leaders of Pixar did it.

I am not sure how much of this book can be applied to your work, but I don’t think it would hurt.

But I must say, that if you are looking for a history of Pixar, this is not your book. This a book on management with Pixar as the source. There are some amazing anecdotes and history lessons, but it’s not a memoir of Pixar.

Another great read.