Creativity, Inc. - Pt. 2

For our 2016 Quarter 4 Book Club, we read Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Disney Animation. Today, we’ll explore our favorite takeaways from our Virtual Book Club Meeting, including topics about fear, taking risks, and Brain Trusts.

Brittany W. started off by saying, “The concept of failure is a good thing in the form of iterative trial and error. We can fail our way to a solution. The example of scientists and experimentation drives it home.”

We understand the importance of experimenting and trying new things – it’s how we innovate and impact the lives of our Inflowees and customers; but with experimentation comes failure and the need to accept failure.

But accepting failure as “part of the process” is hard, especially when failure often goes hand-in-hand with lost dollars. Ryan H. discussed how we can disentangle measuring success from financials:

“Most companies push revenue and profitability targets to their employees. We don’t, because we want our employees to focus on long-term goals, not short-term. People tend to make bad choices when money is involved.”

That’s only the beginning of changing our views on failure though. The truth is, everyone makes mistakes. We know this, but instead of admitting our failures, we sweep them under the rug. To be free from the fear of failure, we have to feel safe admitting our failures; and for a company to feel safe, as Cris B. put it, “Admitting you failed has to come from the top, down. If leadership is open about the mistakes they’ve made and how they fixed it, it gives the rest of the team the comfort to know they can make mistakes, embrace them, and work to improve them.”

Nikho R. added to this point, discussing when he’s had to write large technical documents and submit them for peer review:

“Often times, you put your blood and sweat in a project, and when you put it up for peer-review, you have to leave your ego at the door. When my work gets criticized, I’ve learned to not take it personally. The candor and perspective you get from others can make the project so much greater than it was before.”

And that’s another big take-away: there are no “finished” products, only versions.

Continuing this line of thought, we began discussing “Brain Trusts” – a term used to refer to a group of individuals, generally of vastly different roles, who come together to address a specific problem, brainstorm ideas, and offer feedback to the project lead.

In our discussion, we began with a scenario an Inflowee was working through: “How do we develop meaningful culture for our teams out in the field when we have limited direct exposure to their lives? How do we make sure the things we do are important to them and not what we think are important?”

From here, the conversation got interesting because, in a sense, we became a Brain Trust. Joe H., one of our Engineers who was recently stationed in Kuwait, offered his perspective:

“Our internal [communications] are a great starting point. Having those casual conversations is what allows us to get to know each other better.” Joe then went a level deeper:

“If you understand what motivates a person, you’ll understand what they do and why they do it. Having open communication like this will bridge the gap.” From there, the whole team began to chip in – suggestions for how we bridge that gap: video chats, talking about interests, presentations over subjects we’re experts in, and even Inflowee profile “baseball cards.”

Regardless of the idea – feasible or not – we engaged in exactly what we read: a Brain Trust where ideas flowed, concepts were explored, and problems were tackled. It’s about taking the time to stop, recognize the problem, and work to overcome it as a team.

For the whole conversation, listen to the audio from our meeting here.

There is so much more to be said about Creativity, Inc. and our discussion over it. Our goal, as is with each book we read, is to improve the way we work, broaden the way we think, and ultimately, build a company and culture that genuinely and actively “Makes it Matter.”

At Inflow we solve complex terror and criminal issues for the United States Government and their partners, by providing high quality and innovative solutions at the right price through the cultivation of a corporate culture dedicated to being #1 in employee and customer engagement. We Make it Matter, by putting people first! If you are interested in working for Inflow or partnering with us on future projects, contact us here