Notes on Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unforeseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration – Ed Catmull (Pres of Pixar)

3 Concepts:

  1.  Occam’s Razor (rely on the simplest theory) in terms of astronomy
  2. Bell Curve (if you plot range, a couple in low range, a couple in high range, most in the middle)
  3. Stochastic (random or chance) self-similarity (phenomenon found in everything from stock market fluctuations to seismic activity to rainfall- of patterns that look the same when viewed at different degrees of magnification.

Be open to opinions of everyone, regardless of hierarchy. Be open to change.  Protect new ideas and perspectives and people.

Only 40% of what we think we “see” comes in through the eyes – everything else is from memory or patterns from the past; mental models play a major role in our perception of the world.

Pgl. 182 “Our mental models aren’t reality. They are tools, like the models weather forecasters use to predict the weather.  The tool is not reality. The key is knowing the difference.”

“Unmade Future” – create something out of nothing, realize what is hidden.  Engaging in activities whose outcomes and payoffs are not yet apparent- the most creative ppl are willing to work in the shadow of uncertainty.  “On one side is everything we see and know- the world as we understand it.  On the other side is everything we can’t see and don’t know- unsolved problems, unexpressed emotions, unrealized possibilities so innumerable that imagining them is inconceivable.  This side, then, is not an alternate reality but something even harder to fathom; that which has not yet been created.  The goal is to place one foot on either side of the door- one grounded in what we know, expertise, confidence, processes/ppl we count on, the other unknown, things are murky, unseen, uncreated.”

Candor, not honesty, safety, research, self-assessment, protecting the new.

  1.  Our models of the world distort what we perceive and can make it hard to see what is obvious
  2. don’t see boundary between new outside information and our old, established mental models, we see them as a unified experience
  3. Our own interpretations can make us inflexible
  4. Models of each world can be hopelessly and deeply intertwined with each other.  This can compound in the business world, leading to at-odds models and an inertia that can multiply difficulties and conflict.  Increases inflexibility


  1. Dailies, solving problems together
  2. Research tips
  3. the power of limits
  4. integrating technology and art
  5. short experiments
  6. learning to see
  7. postmortems
  8. continuing to learn

Walt Disney used matting for filmmaking, multiplane camera, Xeroc room for animal cels.

Note:  See uploaded pics of Creative Summary points at end of book.


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