As many of us are spending more time at home due to COVID-19, it’s important to give ourselves breaks from screens and find other activities to fill our time and minds. Our staff at LGND opted to start a book club. Our first selection for discussion was Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull.
Catmull, one of the founders of Pixar, published his autobiography in 2004 while he served as president of both Walt Disney and Pixar companies. In the book, he discusses his time in the entertainment industry and the steps he took to build and maintain a culture of candor at Pixar.
As a company, LGND decided to read Creativity, Inc. to improve our creative culture in the workplace. In our discussion, we learned about each other’s learning and working styles, discussed how to build trust, and how diverse ideas and skill sets can help our ideas win.
Here are some of my takeaways from our company-wide discussion of the book:
“This is where real confidence comes in. Not the confidence that we know exactly what to do at all times but the confidence that, together, we will figure it out.”
Throughout the book, Catmull talks about the importance of building an internal culture of trust between employees and leadership. At LGND, we think it’s important to get to know each other outside of work projects. This way, we can get to know each other’s working styles, build up each other’s strengths, and support each other’s weaknesses.
“If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it.”
Not experiencing failure at LGND means we aren’t sending out enough project proposals to clients. We might not win every proposal we send out, but we dream big. And each project we don’t win teaches us how to build and pitch more meaningful proposals. As Catmull says, “Don’t avoid failure; learn from it.” We have to let go of ego, trust each other, and know that our teammates have our backs.
“If you don’t try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill-prepared to lead.”
Recognizing change and learning how to adapt to new circumstances is essential to thriving as a new digital company. As many of LGND’s staff are already working remotely, adapting the whole staff to a fully-remote workplace due to COVID-19 was not a huge challenge for us. Having all-staff check-in calls multiple times a week has helped us stay on top of client work and internal projects.
“This principle eludes most people, but it is critical: You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.”
Often, we imagine our ideas as being extensions of ourselves. If a teammate criticizes an idea, it upsets us, or we become defensive because it is really a criticism of ourselves. By viewing ideas as separate from ourselves, we will be more open to criticism. It’s also important to remember that our teammates want us, our ideas, and our projects to succeed. They’re criticizing because they want to help us improve, and they want to make sure good ideas win. On top of that, it’s important to seek feedback from co-workers who aren’t familiar with the project, because they won’t be as emotionally attached as we are.
“Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build the ability to recover.”
If we don’t take risks, we’ll never learn, and we’ll never push the boundaries of what we believe to be possible. To develop the ability to recover from failure, it is essential to create a company culture in which leadership supports the team, and the team supports each other. Having proposal and project debriefs allows us to talk about the successes and failures of our work and learn how to improve in the future.
Creativity doesn’t just apply to those of us who view ourselves as artists. There’s creativity in how you write a proposal, creativity in how you navigate a relationship with a client, and creativity in your strategy. Ideas come from people; therefore, people are more important than ideas. We all have something to contribute to the story.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote from Creativity, Inc.? And for you film fanatics, check out our favorite Pixar movies.