Shelf Space: Spilling the Creativi-Tea

Created On: March 14, 2019


Decode has always been a creative company. When you work in this field, you have to be. We’ve also always believed in never-ending growth, both personally and professionally. Each quarter, we get together and participate in our agency-wide book club, where we read and discuss books that will help us to grow in all areas of our lives. Recently we gathered to talk about Creativity, Inc. written by Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation.

Never one to be ordinary, we had to put our own Decode spin on the traditional book club structure. Lounging around the room in bean bags, we munched on snacks, unleashed our inner artists with the help of Toy Story coloring pages, and watched Pixar shorts as we discussed the points put forward in the book and how we could apply them to our own work environment.



Our Key Takeaways

  1.  Create a “fearless culture.” When you’re afraid to fail, you don’t take risks, and when you play it safe, nothing innovative or exciting ever happens. A healthy work environment doesn’t shame employees for suggesting new things; instead, it creates a space where people feel comfortable developing, sharing, and evolving their ideas through collaboration. Speak candidly with coworkers, and focus on sharing constructive messaging that will help others to improve.

  2. “Ideas can come from anywhere.” Sometimes, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the concept of hierarchy and seniority. Leaders might not even realize their employees question if they can speak up on certain issues or suggest ideas. For a truly innovative environment, everyone must have the freedom to say what’s on their mind without fear of being ignored or embarrassed. Be open to suggestions from anyone and everyone, not just from the people on your team.

  3. “Face mistakes without defensiveness.” Everyone makes mistakes; it’s just human nature. Errors aren’t purposeful decisions driven by malicious intent; instead, they’re missteps made by people trying to do their best. Harsh punishments for mistakes leave employees feeling scared and stressed, and people in this state don’t produce good work. Instead, turn every mistake into a learning opportunity and use them to grow.

  4. “Consolidate what has been learned” after a project. Like mistakes, successes are great learning tools. To gain the most benefit from your accomplishments, you need to sit down as a team and talk through the path it took to get there. Talk about what you did right, how you might be able to replicate that, what you did wrong, and how you can do even better in the future. With our focus on engaging in critical thinking and analyzing, this is right up our alley.

  5. “Be open to the new,” and never stop learning. What you learn doesn’t even have to be relevant to your job. Putting yourself in new situations, letting yourself be vulnerable, and gaining new knowledge in any subject can help boost your creativity. Every chance to learn something new is an opportunity to grow and evolve. The unicorns at Decode are a curious bunch, and we always strive to open our boundaries a little more, especially through our book club.


Getting to sit down as a group and talk about these concepts helped make them more concrete for us. Together as an agency, we plan to take these ideas and evolve into something stronger, bolder, and even more creative. To finish this off, we’ll leave you with one of our favorite quotes from Ed Catmull:

“Unleashing creativity requires that we loosen the controls, accept risk, trust our colleagues, work to clear the path for them, and pay attention to anything that creates fear. Doing all these things won’t necessarily make the job of managing a creative culture easier. But ease isn’t the goal; excellence is.”