Management books?? Why have they attracted me always? Was it because I always wanted to be on the top of any organization or because I was harassed by one of my client managers way back in 2012? Why did she harass me? Was it because I was ANTI with her ideas and did not listen to her or was I too timid to explain my thought process or the feeling I had that she wouldn’t give an ear to me? OKAY, whatever might be the reasons, when I read this book, SHE was the only one who came into my thoughts. Even though this incident took place sometime in the last month of 2012 and early 2013, those moments still haunt me. Whenever I read a management book, I immediately correlate everything with her be it good or bad she had done. It is not that I’m still doing a research to save my ass and pin -point her mistakes, SHE was a manager with very different approach whom I failed to impress and who also failed to impress me with her witty practices.So, you all must be thinking as to why do I give a big lecture before my review. But the fact is, certain people in life whether personal or professional haunt us forever whether good or bad.And to be very frank, though I hate her even to this day, those three months spent with her had changed the way I worked completely and I learned how not to behave as a manager and how not to stoop down so much but to maintain some personal respect or dignity.Certain wrong doings by others, change us too. I became tougher afterward.
This book review would be little different unlike other reviews of mine.I will be summarizing all the chapters of the book and the review would serve as a single point to understand Ed’s management techniques.
Creativity.Inc is a good read for someone who works on projects that has a longer ETA. Personally I learned many management techniques that can be implemented at work too. Ed had been very transparent in sharing about the work culture in Pixar and his secret of success. This is a must read for people not only in the creativity industry but also for others who want to do something out of the box and have their own time to get stuff fixed.
This book is neither too heavy to read nor too difficult to comprehend. At times, certain examples are too specific to the movies and shots captured.These examples would be understood better by someone who watched those movies.
Ed is someone who believes that for creative inspiration job titles and hierarchy are meaningless. His Pixar office was designed by Steve Jobs where the meeting room had a long skinny table that hindered communication. This was converted to a square table that not only had a free flow of conversation but also old place cards.He talks about a multi-endeavour step and says that detangling a problem is not as simple as correcting the original error.
He takes the reader to the flashback of his childhood and also the other days that inspired him to take up the animation.When Ed was a child, he used to eagerly wait for the show ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ by Walt Disney on his Black & White RCA. Walt Disney had explained the synchronization of sound with pictures and other techniques.Ed loves Albert Einstein and Walt Disney. Einstein for mastering in explanation of things that were explained very little, Theory of Relativity. Walt Disney for inventing new stuff.Ed was fascinated by the way Walt narrated about Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland and Fantasyland on the television.Ed’s conception of interest in animation came from the inspiration of ‘Where do the stories come from?’. An artist drawing Donald duck and how it came to life.
Aftermath of some of the following events in the America, The Great Depression, World War -II, Korean War, the banks started giving loan, the first organ transplants materialized, the first polio vaccination came into place, artificial intelligence was conceived in lexicon, though the United States was in a full swing, it was threatened by the fact that, the rival USSR had sent their first satellite SPUTNIK I into the earth’s orbit. The USA had considered this as a competition and launched ARPANET that later attributed to the invention of the early internet. Ed at that point of time was a student at the University of Utah which was one of the educational institutions that had the first nodes of ARPANET along with Stanford, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara. These educational institutions paved a way to the innovation.His classmates in the University had a collaborative atmosphere where they used to piggy bank and push forward the ideas for creativity and invention.Since the students were exposed to IT, his fellow classmates later turned out to be key persons in the different facets of IT like silicon graphics & Netscape, Photoshop & pdf file format, OOP, & GUI. The first innovation that Ed had done was a hand model that was digitized into 350 interlocking triangles. He had used a subdivision algorithm of the computer to display curved devices. This was called the texture mapping.There was an exchange immersion program of the U of U students and the Disney. Ed flew to Burbank to explain the idea of animation, but Walt Disney failed to approve his idea.Instead, they offered him a job to design their rides and of course Ed had rejected this offer.Ed had received a call from NYIT after his graduation program in the U of U.
Enough of these technical details, back to the date of narration, Ed says that it took him 20 years of hard work without which he wouldn’t have been noticeable in the animation field.Managers must accept risk, trust people at work.After Ed got into NYIT, his first boss, Alex, who lacked computer skills but was a visionary.He trusted Ed to choose his own people.He had this proposition “When faced with a challenge, get smarter”.Ed always believed in hiring people smarter than himself.He had created a flat organization and freedom for highly self-motivated people.Ed moved out of NYIT and formed a company of his own along with John and named it Pixar.He believed to engage in a community, publish everything discovered, participate in review papers. He and John also believed in a clarity of vision and what computers could do.They hired managers to run different departments like graphics, video, and audio groups. Okay, to get it straight, the hierarchy is required only when you have a bigger budget and something with a greater impact otherwise flat organization is sufficient.Ed also feels that ‘If someone is getting the story right, visual polish frequently does not matter’.Steve jobs took over Pixar (70% stock for Steve, 30% for the employees) after he was fired from Apple Inc.He had founded NeXt then.
Quality practices such as TQC, JIT in Japan & USA had reduced the prices due to the usage of conveyor belt for mass assembly line production. Questions like the following would crop up in order to foster a creative culture.
- What had been done to achieve success?
- What could be replicated?
- What could threaten?
- How much of success was luck?
- What happens when new people are in?
In order to answer these questions, few things need to be considered:
- Story is the king and not to overlap the story with the technical rendering. Both are two different aspects
- Assigning a mediocre idea to a good team is preferred to assigning good idea to a mediocre team
- Team interaction is valued much rather than the individual talent.Hence getting the right team in place has more priority.
- Trust the people and not the process. Even if the process goes haywire, people would set it right
- Introspection and quality are required throughout the process
- Dailies or solving problems together
- Research tips
- The power of limits
- Integrating tech and art
- Short experiments
- Learning to see
- Postmortems- consolidate what has been learned, teach others who weren’t there, don’t let the resentments fester, pay it forward
- Continuing to learn that fear of judgment hinders creativity
- Surge in production cost
- External economic forces put more pressure
- People were not empowered to speak