Top positive review
Primer on managing creativity
Reviewed in India on 17 February 2016
I am not a great fan of books written about a great company / companies. Most of the lists churned out turn out to be lemons over a period of time. From Tom Peters ( remember 'In search of excellence) to Jim Collins ( Good to Great / Greater / Greatest'grandest'and the multiple titles that he authored)'.they write books with an outsider's perspective ' of all the good to great things that these companies do in innovation / customer service / branding / leadership building s etc., The guys who wrote the books never worked inside the companies'.they do not have a first-hand feel for the pains of building world class companies'.mostly successful and prolific authors / journalists or the McKinsey types'.riding the gravy train of somebody else's success.
When they are written by the founders / builders of these companies'it is a different story altogether. Remember reading a great book called 'Joy Inc' by Richard Sheridan about a medium sized software products company called Menlo Systems. It was a class act ' a straight from the heart story of a CEO on what it takes to build a highly engaged company. Creativity Inc is a notch above.
It is multiple stories woven together'.it is the story of Ed Catmull and his dreams'.and PIXAR '.redefined computer animation and graphics'and produced a series of block busters ( think Toy Story 1 and 2, Think Monsters, Think Finding Nemo'the list is endless)'15 Academy awards, 11 Golden Globes and 7 Grammys and gave Disney Animation a run for their money and their tired tales of Alice in Wonderland, Snow White etc., A whole generation of Americans ( not just kids !) grew up on these newly created characters, their quirky stories and the home truths spun around them'.almost like the ancient Disney stories but set in the modern world and integrating it into the complexities of the new world'.
It is also the story of the birth of the 3D Graphics and Computer animation'.and the history and coming of age of these movies'.and the role of hi-tech in entertainment.
Concurrently it is also the story of the men (strangely no women in this) who defined a genre which holds on and getting stronger in spite of multiple other slicker franchisees. We go thru the lives of some of the greatest entertainers post Walt Disney'..Starting off from George Lucas, then to John Lasetter and Ed Catmull'and how after merger with Disney'.it is the story of Disney and Pixar combined together but run autonomously by Catmull under the watchful eye of Robert Iger.
It is also a great book on how to build great companies'.how to build creative companies'whose value is as much as the collective imagination and motivation of its employees'.the insightful stories of the successes of Catmull and Lasetter in ensuring that an animation company which is a marriage of Technology and Creativity'sustains where neither is swamped by the other'but each function builds on the strengths of the other'..the chapters on Brains Trust, Post Mortems, Story Telling are a must read for anyone who is leading people'.how to build high performance companies and sustain them'.this autobiographical book is like a Bible'.Ditto with the chapters post the Disney acquisition'Read it to appreciate the subtle nuances the author is so sensitive about organizational issues'.and how he carefully navigates the egos and anxieties'
And finally'this is a book about Steve Jobs'..who got in as the promoter of the company and bought it from George Lucas'.and the autonomy and independence he provided to Ed Catmull and John Lasetter'through the trying times in the beginning'to its humongous success later.'.and gave birth to an industry'of hi-tech computer animation, 3D graphics and yet narrating simple goofy tales'contrary to the stories of the brilliant but tyrannical Jobs'which comes out from the Apple related books, Steve Jobs comes out pretty well'as a genius'who could appreciate other intelligent and creative people'and challenge them to greater heights.
A natural question people would may be tempted to ask is how much of the creative genius of Steve Jobs played a role in the growth and success of PIXAR'.think we should spin the question around and ask 'How much of the creativity and innovation so well nurtured in PIXAR played a key role in shaping Job's genius and its eventual success on a much larger canvas called APPLE Inc ?
Normally I look down on management / how to books'I would classify this book more as the story of individual dreams and how you build and nurture them'..Read it'you will be wiser and also get a first-hand feel for hi-tech and the world of entertainment'and the efforts required to fuel and sustain it.