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Book Recommendation: Creativity, Inc.

Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, is one of my top business book recommendations of the year so far.  (Check it out at Shop at!) It’s a rollicking trip through the inner workings of Pixar Studios, including the role Steve Jobs played in shaping the company, how the company uses its Brain Trust to drive innovation, and its “plussing” approach to building a more creative, not to mention, fun culture.  From Toy Story to Up, the lessons learned from the making of each and every Pixar animated film are as insightful as they are entertaining.

Here are 15 of the dozens of excellent insights I gleaned from Creativity, Inc.:

  1. The physical space you work in matters. A lot!  Pixar Studios were redesigned to foster a greater spirit of inspiration. Even their meeting room table was redesigned to facilitate more active involvement from participants.
  2. Being on the lookout for problems is not the same thing as seeing problems!
  3. Leaders need to uncover what’s blocking people from getting excited about a new idea.
  4. Creativity is never a linear, neat process. It’s messy!  But you need to trust the process.
  5. Choosing between good ideas or good people is a false dichotomy: A mediocre team can destroy a good idea, whereas good people can turn a mediocre idea into a hit.
  6. If you want real creativity to thrive then candor is key. People need to be able to be brutally honest at every step of the creative process.
  7. Leaders must create an environment where people WANT to receive feedback. Honest feedback.
  8. The four key ingredients of an effective “brain trust”:  frank talk, debate, laughter, and love.
  9. Leaders need to be open about their failures to foster an environment of trust and candor.
  10. When experimentation is seen as necessary and productive, NOT as a waste of time, employees will enjoy their work rather living in fear of failure.
  11. Each “failure” brings you one step closer to a better idea.
  12. Good leaders uncover what is unseen.
  13. Why hire smart people if you don’t empower them to fix problems!
  14. Failure isn’t a necessary evil when it comes to being more creative….it’s necessary!
  15. If there is more truth in your hallways than in your meetings, you have a problem!

Michael Kerr, Humor at Work. Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame business speaker who is listed as one of Canada’s most in-demand speakers.

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