The Journey from “Suck” to “Not-suck” to Insanely Great – Insight from Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.

Creativity-Inc.-CoverPixar films are not good at first, and our job is to make them so—to go, as I say, “from suck to not-suck.”

Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.


So, I went back though Creativity, Inc. again this morning. This book is so chock-full of wisdom, insight, stories… It is a terrific book on: change; constant improvement; problem seeking and problem finding; collaboration; and much more. Really, one of the best business books I have ever read and presented. (I present synopses of business books at the First Friday Book Synopsis, and to leadership teams in many organizations).

And, I also think of this book as something of a third biography of Steve Jobs (in addition to the two very-worth-reading biographies Steve Jobs and Becoming Steve Jobs).

But the quote above especially grabbed me in this morning’s re-visit of the book. Think of it as a spectrum. A company, a project, a product, a movie (for this book, he was speaking of the quality of the movies at Pixar), it can range from:

then getting closer to
and finally the ultimate (to quote Steve Jobs)
Insanely Great!

But, for this to happen – to move well away from “suck” – you have to get far away from accepting “mediocre.” From the book:

Talented storytellers had found a way to make viewers care, and the evolution of this storyline made it abundantly clear to me: If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better. 

So, here’s my last of my five takeaways for this book:

Keep making everything, every part of everything, better!

That presents quite a challenge, doesn’t it?


You might want to also read this earlier blog post: Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull – Key Thoughts, and My Five Lessons and Takeaways.

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