The 40 Best Quotes from “Creativity, Inc.”

Ed Catmull is the Co -founder of Pixar and the president of Disney and Pixar Animation studios. Pixar is the most creative storytelling movie studio on earth and manages to churn out #1 hits year after year unlike anyone else. Even their bad movies are good. So when Ed Catmull writes a book about building a healthy, creative culture in an organization one should take notice. Creativity, Inc. is just such a book.

Here are best 40 quotes from Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unforeseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration


“When faced with a challenge, get smarter.”

“Each man could see ego in the other but not in himself. “

“The responsibility for finding and fixing problems should be assigned to every employee, from the most senior manager to the lowliest person on the production line.”

“You don’t have to ask permission to take responsibility.”

“When downsides coexist with upsides, as they often do, people are reluctant to explore what’s bugging them, for fear of being labeled complainers . . . This kind of thing, if left unaddressed, could fester and destroy.”

“Anyone should be able to talk to anyone else, at any level, at any time, without fear of reprimand. Communication would no longer have to go through hierarchical channels.”

© Disney • Pixar

“Getting the team right is the necessary precursor to getting the ideas right.”

“Ideas come from people. Therefore, people are more important than ideas.”

“Find, develop, and support good people, and they in turn will find, develop, and own good ideas.”

“We should trust in people, not processes. The process has no agenda and doesn’t have taste. It’s just a tool – a framework.”

“To ensure quality, then excellence must be an earned word, attributed by others to us, not proclaimed by us about ourselves.”

“Quality is the best business plan.”

“A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candor, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunction.”

“Societal conditioning discourages people from telling the truth to those perceived to be in higher positions.”

“Try to create an environment where people want to hear each other’s notes even when those notes are challenging, and where everyone has a vested interest in one another’s success.”

“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.”

“People need to be wrong as fast as they can.”

“Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and as such should be seen as valuable; without them we have no originality).”

“Is the question being asked: Whose fault is it? If so your culture is one that vilifies failure. Failure is difficult enough without being compounded by the search for a scapegoat.”

“Overplanners just take longer to fail.”

“When it comes to creative endeavors, the concept of zero failures is worse than useless. It’s counterproductive.”

“Part of our job is to protect the new from people who don’t understand that in order for greatness to emerge, there must be phases of not-so-greatness.”

“In a healthy culture, all constituencies recognize the importance of balancing competing desires – they want to be heard, but they don’t have to win.”

“The key is to view conflict as essential, because that’s how we know the best ideas will be tested and survive.”

“Managers of creative enterprises must hold lightly to goals and firmly to intentions.”

“Negative feedback may be fun, but it’s far less brave than endorsing something unproven and providing room for it to grow.”

“Managers do not need to work hard to protect established ideas or ways of doing business. The system is tilted to favor the incumbent. The challenger needs support to find its footing. And protection of the new – of the future, not the past – must be a conscious effort.”

“The unpredictable is the ground on which creativity occurs.”

“The person who can’t change his or her mind is dangerous.”

“Self-interest fuels opposition to change, but lack of self-awareness fuels it even more.”

“If we allow more people to solve problems without permission, and if we tolerate (and don’t vilify) their mistakes, then we enable a much larger set of problems to be addressed. When a random problem pops up in this scenario, it causes no panic, because the threat of failure has been defanged.”

“Here’s what turns a successful hierarchy into one that impedes progress: when too many people begin, subconsciously, to equate their own value and that of others with where they fall in the pecking order.”

“If we start with the attitude that different viewpoints are additive rather than competitive, we become more effective because our ideas or decisions are honed and tempered by that discourse.”

“The past should be our teacher, not our master.”

“You’ll never stumble upon the unexpected if you stick only to the familiar.”

“A good postmortem arms people with the right questions to ask going forward.”

“Measure what you can, evaluate what you measure, and appreciate that you cannot measure the vast majority of what you do.”

“The attempt to avoid failure makes failure more likely.”

“Because your rational mind knows that tunnels have two ends, your emotional mind can be kept in check when pitch blackness descends in the confusing middle.”

“Driving the train doesn’t set its course. The real job is laying the track.”