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53 Astonishing Ed Catmull Quotes

Ed Catmull is the current President of Pixar Animal Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studies. As the author of ‘Creativity, Inc.’ Catmull has spent the better part of his life contributing to the development of computer graphics and animation. He shares some of his best strategies for reaching creativity. Here is a look at some of the most known Ed Catmull quotes to inspire you.

“A good postmortem arms people with the right questions to ask going forward.”

“A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candor, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunction.”

“Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.”

“Anyone should be able to talk to anyone else, at any level, at any time, without fear of reprimand. Communication would no longer have to go through hierarchical channels.”

“Because your rational mind knows that tunnels have two ends, your emotional mind can be kept in check when pitch blackness descends in the confusing middle.”

“By ignoring my fear, I learned that the fear was groundless.”

“Craft is what we are expected to know; art is the unexpected use of our craft.”

“Driving the train doesn’t set its course. The real job is laying the track.”

“Each man could see ego in the other but not in himself.”

“Even the smartest people can form an ineffective team if they are mismatched.”

“Failure was being used as a weapon, rather than as an agent of learning.”

“Fear can be created quickly; trust can’t.”

“Find, develop, and support good people, and they in turn will find, develop, and own good ideas.”

“Getting the team right is the necessary precursor to getting the ideas right.”

“Here’s what turns a successful hierarchy into one that impedes progress: when too many people begin, subconsciously, to equate their own value and that of others with where they fall in the pecking order.”

“Ideas come from people. Therefore, people are more important than ideas.”

“If we start with the attitude that different viewpoints are additive rather than competitive, we become more effective because our ideas or decisions are honed and tempered by that discourse.”

“In a healthy culture, all constituencies recognize the importance of balancing competing desires – they want to be heard, but they don’t have to win.”

“Is the question being asked: Whose fault is it? If so your culture is one that vilifies failure. Failure is difficult enough without being compounded by the search for a scapegoat.”

“Managers of creative enterprises must hold lightly to goals and firmly to intentions.”

“Measure what you can, evaluate what you measure, and appreciate that you cannot measure the vast majority of what you do.”

“Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and as such should be seen as valuable; without them we have no originality).”

“Most of us do not realize that we distort our own view of the world, largely because we think we see more than we actually do.”

“Negative feedback may be fun, but it’s far less brave than endorsing something unproven and providing room for it to grow.”

“Overplanners just take longer to fail.”

“Part of our job is to protect the new from people who don’t understand that in order for greatness to emerge, there must be phases of not-so-greatness.”

“People need to be wrong as fast as they can.”

“Quality is the best business plan.”

“Self-interest fuels opposition to change, but lack of self-awareness fuels it even more.”

“Societal conditioning discourages people from telling the truth to those perceived to be in higher positions.”

“The attempt to avoid failure makes failure more likely.”

“The key is to view conflict as essential, because that’s how we know the best ideas will be tested and survive.”

“The past should be our teacher, not our master.”

“The person who can’t change his or her mind is dangerous.”

“The responsibility for finding and fixing problems should be assigned to every employee, from the most senior manager to the lowliest person on the production line.”

“The unpredictable is the ground on which creativity occurs.”

“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.”

“To ensure quality, then excellence must be an earned word, attributed by others to us, not proclaimed by us about ourselves.”

“To reiterate, it is the focus on people—their work habits, their talents, their values—that is absolutely central to any creative venture.”

“Try to create an environment where people want to hear each other’s notes even when those notes are challenging, and where everyone has a vested interest in one another’s success.”

“We face hundreds of challenges, every day, in our lives. The majority hardly qualify as challenges.”

“We must remember that failure gives us chances to grow, and we ignore those chances at our own peril.”

“We should trust in people, not processes. The process has no agenda and doesn’t have taste. It’s just a tool – a framework.”

“We start from the presumption that our people are talented and want to contribute.”

“We want people to feel like they can take steps to solve problems without asking permission.”

“What is the point of hiring smart people, we asked, if you don’t empower them to fix what’s broken?”

“When downsides coexist with upsides, as they often do, people are reluctant to explore what’s bugging them, for fear of being labeled complainers . . . This kind of thing, if left unaddressed, could fester and destroy.”

“When faced with a challenge, get smarter.”

“When it comes to creative endeavors, the concept of zero failures is worse than useless. It’s counterproductive.”

“When it comes to creative inspiration, job titles and hierarchy are meaningless.”

“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.”

“You don’t have to ask permission to take responsibility.”

“You’ll never stumble upon the unexpected if you stick only to the familiar.”

The secret sauce to Pixar’s success can be credited to the efforts made by Ed Catmull. Here is a first hand look from Catmull as to what it is that makes a difference.

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