Ten Tips from Pixar’s Creative Culture

 In Blog

Radio will remain vital as the number one reach medium by fostering a creative culture in its radio stations. People seek out great content regardless of the platform.

We’ve visited too many radio stations that look like you’re walking into a staid law office.

Developing and nurturing talent begins with a creative culture where companies setup a workplace that’s fun and open.

Ed Catmull is president of Pixar and Disney Animation. His book, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration is loaded with ideas and nuggets from one of the world’s most creative and successful companies. Ed’s book has inspired me to be a better talent coach.

Here are ten insights in the form of excerpts (it could have been 50!) from Creativity, Inc. that can inspire radio stations to be more creative and get the most out of their talent.


  1. I often say that managers of creative enterprises must hold lightly to goals and firmly to intentions. What does that mean? It means that we must be open to having our goals change as we learn new information or are surprised by things we thought we knew but didn’t. As long as our intentions—our values—remain constant, our goals can shift as needed.
  1. A manager’s default mode should not be secrecy. What is needed is a thoughtful consideration of the cost of secrecy weighed against the risks. When you instantly resort to secrecy, you are telling people they can’t be trusted. When you are candid, you are telling people that you trust them and that there is nothing to fear. To confide in employees is to give them a sense of ownership over the information. The result—and I’ve seen this again and again—is that they are less likely to leak whatever it is that you’ve confided.
  1. It is not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.
  1. Careful “messaging” to downplay problems makes you appear to be lying, deluded, ignorant, or uncaring. Sharing problems is an act of inclusion that makes employees feel invested in the larger enterprise
  1. To keep a creative culture vibrant, we must not be afraid of constant uncertainty. We must accept it, just as we accept the weather. Uncertainty and change are life’s constants. And that’s the fun part.
  1. Everything is changing. All the time. And you can’t stop it. And your attempts to stop it actually put you in a bad place. It causes pain, but we don’t seem to learn from it. Worse than that, resisting change robs you of your beginner’s mind—your openness to the new.
  2. We’re meant to push ourselves and try new things—which will definitely make us feel uncomfortable.
  1. There’s a quick way to determine if your company has embraced the negative definition of failure. Ask yourself what happens when an error is discovered. Do people shut down and turn inward, instead of coming together to untangle the causes of problems that might be avoided going forward? Is the question being asked: Whose fault was this? If so, your culture is one that vilifies failure. Failure is difficult enough without it being compounded by the search for a scapegoat.
  2. By resisting the beginner’s mind, you make yourself more prone to repeat yourself than to create something new. The attempt to avoid failure, in other words, makes failure more likely.
  3. When looking to hire people, give their potential to grow more weight than their current skill level. What they will be capable of tomorrow is more important than what they can do today.


Photo Credit: Flickr.com/https:/www.flickr.com/photos/bmiphone/

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