Books in March 2019, Part 3

Creativity, Inc.
Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace


I didn’t know if I would enjoy this book and it took some time before I finally borrowed it. Super happy I did, and I’m glad that I managed to finish it before I start my new gig. 

I did not know that Pixar has been around since 1980s! A sorta-aside, I loved Toy Story and was really pleased to read the stories around its origin and development in here!

I enjoyed reading about Pixar’s culture and the methods put in place to protect and nurture its creative culture. 

Catmull concluded this book with a list of starting points, which was an awesomely succinct and useful list of reminders. From that list, here are my favourites:

Do not fall for the illusion that by preventing errors, you won’t have errors to fix. The truth is, the cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them. 

  • Change and uncertainty are part of life. Our job is not to resist them but to build the capability to recover when unexpected events occur. If you don’t always try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.

  • Similarly, it’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them. 

  • The desire for everything to run smoothly is a false goal — it leads to measuring people by the mistakes they make rather than by their ability to solve problems.

  • The healthiest organisations are made up of departments whose agendas differ but whose goals are interdependent. If one agenda wins, we all lose. 

  • Do not accidentally make stability a goal. Balance is more important than stability.

  • Don’t confuse the process with the goal. Working on our processes to make them better, easier, and more efficient is an indispensable activity and something we should continually work on — but it is not the goal. Making the product great is the goal.


Escaping the Build Trap
Melissa Perri


I heard Melissa Perri speak last month at UX Thailand; she was the opening keynote speaker and her talk on product-led organisations was insightful and engaging. 

Perri used a fictitious company Marquetly and their journey to  describe and illustrate the four components essential to build a product-led company — role, strategy, process, and organisation.

For the most part, I found the stories helpful and highly relatable (sadface). I saw lots of parallels between Marquetly and my previous workplace, and I wish that I had this book then so I could borrow its articulation and eloquence. 


Lean UX
Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden


Sometimes you read so much about a topic that every new thing you read feels derivative. To be fair, this book was published in 2013, so it is possible (and probably so) that the hundreds of Medium, Smashing Magazine etc articles were developed from this book then vice versa.

Read for background.

I did wish I read this before UX for Lean Startups. The two books aren’t exactly overlapping, but I would say that the principles and concepts are similar.


The Making of a Manager
Julie Zhuo


Last year, I managed a team for the first time. Many times during the reading of this book, I wished that I had its advice and assurances. That Zhuo led a design team made the examples and advice here more relatable.

For a short excerpt, read Zhuo’s Making the Most of Your First Three Months as a New Manager on Medium.

There are great tips in here on giving and receiving feedback, hiring, managing yourself, and driving outcomes. I’m still making notes, and am foreseeing that I’ll be rereading some of these chapters in the near future.