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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Creativity: Post#4--The Ugly Baby and the Hunger

The Ugly Baby: Catmull found that the industry was always hungry for the next box office smash—he call this insatiable lust for content, “The Hunger.” However, early ideas were what he calls “The Ugly Baby,” which had to be protected from a premature release to The Hunger. Lots of conflict happened at Pixar when there was tension between “the Beast [Hunger] vs. the Baby.” 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Creativity: Post #3-- Protecting the New

Protecting the New Catmull discusses the importance of trust and candor in relationships.  In the book, he focuses on how to reframe the fear of failure as useful, normal and the path toward success—more of a learning experience. To get to the truth, he created “the Braintrust” of various stakeholders to gather periodically and give very honest feedback about what worked and did not work in a film.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Creativity: Post #2--Getting Started

Getting Started—This section of the book covers Ed Catmull’s formative years—a mini autobiography. He dreamt of being an animator for Disney one day. In college, he studied physics and computer science and always wanted to merge art with computers. His first animation as a university student was a short film, “The Hand”—a great success. George Lucas hired him to work on Star Wars. There, he met John Lasseter and later linked up with Steve Jobs when Lucas sold Pixar to Jobs. Then, Jobs, Lasseter and Catmull grew Pixar into the powerhouse it has become. After they signed a 3-film deal with Disney, “Toy Story” became the first full-length animated film and Catmull’s dream came true…but much more was to happen.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Creativity: Post #1--Overview

Overview: This is a book about the journey of creativity as seen through the eyes of a man who created an entire industry—animated films. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and president of Pixar and Disney Animation, has written a book to guide other companies that need to innovate in an uncertain environment—like today.  Readers get a mini-autobiography starting with Catmull’s childhood dream of one day being a Disney animator to his assent to president of animation. We also get a world-class explanation about how to foster creativity in diverse groups by listening to input from everyone we work with, by using processes like the “braintrust” and “notes day” to make sure there is systematic evaluation and diversity of thought. Catmull also offers some great advice and wisdom on People, Teams, Truth, Failure, and Change.  For example: “There should not be more truth in the hallways than in meetings.” Read and heed this book if you want to innovate and survive in a changing world.

Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Bantam Press, 2014) by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace, reviewed by Steve Gladis, April 2015.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Physics of Growth: FINAL Post--Portfolio Management

Managing the Growth Portfolio: As some learning launches show success, they will be entered into a portfolio of experiments—like a stock portfolio.  The manager might well balance these initially successful experiments in the portfolio as short- and long-term. Also, other criteria in balancing are: 1) Improvement initiatives (better, faster, cheaper); 2) New products or business models; 3) Acquisition (buying other companies or products).

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Physics of Business Growth: Post #5--Learning Launches

Identifying New Idea and Learning Launches: “Creativity is a team sport.”  The two stages of creativity are discovery and development. Contact with customers is critical. To create ideas use: Challenging, connecting, visualizing, collaborating, improvising, reframing, and playing. Idea generation math: 1,000 ideas, to 100 experiments, to 10 initiatives that produce one or two successes! Experiment only on high potential ideas that create value, can be executed well by the company, are defendable from competitors and are scalable.  A learning launch is a low-cost, low-risk, small experiment to test a potential idea, collect data, and learn insights from the market. Analysis has dominated the process for change, and it’s caused as much paralysis as analysis and “the tyranny of ROI.” Large businesses stifle creativity by requiring too much analysis. Leaders need to allow, fund, and get out of the way of learning launches.

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