Book Review – Innovate the Pixar Way

It’s been a while since we’ve talked book reviews, but we finished reading “Innovate the Pixar Way” by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson this weekend. To summarize in a few points as possible:

  • The book was pretty light on the history of Pixar
  • The artwork, pull-quote text and some chapters come across almost condescending, but mostly it sounds like they’re trying too hard.

The whole premise of the book when I picked it up was to get an inside look at Pixar Animation Studios, to really have in-depth interviews with their staff or past employees. It wasn’t so much that as it was a compilation of quotes and tidbits compiled from other video and text interviews conducted with key staff over the years. And while it wasn’t the job of this book to run you through the whole history of Pixar, the amount of text supplied to educate the reader on Pixar could be picked up from Wikipedia.

To be honest, I didn’t like this book. It read very vaguely with whispy high-flying ideas on how to innovate and be creative by having fun at work and letting employees be creative with their office space and not getting tied up in your failures. All good ideas, but not practical if your business has less than a few million in the bank.

One good takeaway was a look at Disney and Walt Disney himself, alongside Ed Catmull and Jon Lasseter of Pixar. The concept of scrapping work that was merely “good enough” to take advantage of “great work” is valid, important and arguably the most important lesson of the book. The authors give good examples, accounts and stories to further this concept well.

In all, a pretty light book on Pixar from a detail standpoint; there’s nothing new to be read here that can’t be surmised from articles, videos and interviews already on the Internet.

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