Author: Ed Catmull
This book is very much the story of Pixar. Which is a story that I found very enjoyable in itself. But, the book also contains a lot of ingredients that make the company such a success. Catmull, who is one Pixar’s co-founders, does an excellent job sharing his experiences over the decades long time frame the book covers.
Catmull believes that creative problem solving is critical for businesses is any industry. The book outlines the process of making creativity a part of an organizations daily culture.
A hallmark of a healthy and creative culture is that people feel free to express ideas, opinions, and criticisms. The word honesty carries baggage that can hold people back. So, encourage candor over honesty. Pixar puts smart people in a room together to solve problems, and encourages them to use candor in their conversations with one another. They refer to these meetings as a Brain Trust.
An Effective Feedback system is built on empathy; an idea, that we are in this together. The purpose of feedback is to move the process forward. Effective feedback requires candor, trust, and empathy. A note is a good way to give feedback. A good note is timely and specific, it should inspire, it clarifies what is wrong or missing, it doesn’t have to include a fix to the problem, and it makes no demands.
Catmull also stresses the importance of “Getting the Team Right.” He believes that great teams are far more important than great ideas. He also encourages managers to hire people that are smarter than they are and have a lot of potential. (“hire for potential, not the past.”) Find, develop, and support good people. A good team is made up of people who complement each other. Understand the mix of talent in the group, match the right people with the right task.
What I like most about the book:
I really enjoyed listening to the many challenges that were overcome while making Pixar hits such as Toy Story, Up, Monsters Inc.
- The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
- Quality is the best business plan.
- If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.
- You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.
- Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.
- Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way.
- Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.
- If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it.
- What is the point of hiring smart people, we asked, if you don’t empower them to fix what’s broken?
- You don’t have to ask permission to take responsibility.
- Be patient. Be authentic. And be consistent. The trust will come.
- It is not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.
- If there are people in your organization who feel they are not free to suggest ideas, you lose.
- Societal conditioning discourages telling the truth to those perceived to be in higher positions.
- There is nothing quite as effective, when it comes to shutting down alternative viewpoints, as being convicted you are right.
- Measure what you can, evaluate what you measure, and appreciate that you cannot measure the vast majority of what you do.