I felt so inspired while reading this book that I wanted to share some words that to me were major takeaways. This isn’t meant to be a book review
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the way of True Inspiration is a book by the president of Pixar and Disney Animation, Ed Catmull (with Amy Wallace).
He explains his amazing journey creating and then maintaining these animation studios. Here are a few points that still have me thinking…
Truth about the Creative Process
“Most of us have a romantic idea about how creativity happens: A lone visionary conceives of a film or a product in a flash of insight… In my experience, creative people discover and realize their visions over time and through dedicated, protracted struggle”(p. 223).
I think that from media I had this idea in my head that creativity comes naturally and easily to those that are artistic or creative thinkers. I thought for a long time that I simply wasn’t a creative person. I truly believed that my sister got that gene and it completely skipped over me. I have always found that I have to spend a lot of time brainstorming to come up with any ideas that I would even consider pursuing. After reading this book and learning about how grueling and all-life-consuming the creative process of making an animated film from a single idea can be, I feel reassured that my troubles are nothing compared to what’s going on a Pixar or Disney. It just takes practice and dedication.
Inspiring Leadership Advice
As a Head Librarian I am always reading up on what I can do to better myself as a leader. I’m not interested in simply managing. I want to be able to energize my team, have them share the excitement of a new idea and feel the satisfaction of helping our students and teachers in an innovative and creative way.
“… I believe the deeper issue is that the leaders of these companies were not attuned to the fact that there were problems they could not see. And because they weren’t aware of these blind spots, they assumed that the problems didn’t exist. Which brings us to one of my core management beliefs: If you don’t try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead” (p. 169).
“… success convinces us that we are doing things the right way. There is nothing quite as effective, when it comes to shutting down alternative viewpoints, as being convinced you are right” (p. 173).
I couldn’t agree more with these words. No matter how small your workplace is, there is always potential to miss details that can lead to catastrophes. I can relate this to so many situations, but in particular, relationships with patrons, colleagues, administration and your team. Self-awareness is vital to good leadership. Schedule time to reflect on a regular basis (whether it be through surveys, staff meetings, or taking time to sit down and really think).
Lastly, I love the advice to have “constructive midstream feedback”
Catmull describes this tool used to collaborate and experience a different frame of mind when working through problems. He calls it Dailies, or Solving Problems Together. He discusses how during the creation of Brave daily, hour-long sessions would be held, where everyone was encouraged to let go of any embarrassment and speak freely. Everyone’s incomplete work was shown, so everyone feels a certain amount of vulnerability. However, through this everyone learns, gains clarity, and listens to one another.
In the library, I don’t see this happening as a daily event, but I think that it would certainly be beneficial to have regular meetings with this format. With everyone’s perspectives we can come up with better programs and services for our library users. Every team member’s opinion is important, but it can be a real challenge to get more junior staff members to feel comfortable enough to voice their ideas.