Thursday, February 17, 2011

Inside Pixar


Pixar is what every creative organisation should aspire to become. Not only are their films critically acclaimed but are also mega-commercial successes. In the interview above you get to know the reason why. It is all about leadership and culture. This simple interview covers lot of territory and is at once fascinating and insightful.

For example, take managing ‘creative types’.

In an agency you can see some of the so-called-creative types strutting about like a peacock-on-heat throwing tantrums and in general making life miserable for everyone. Management is completely paralyzed into inaction not knowing how to deal with them. The result is that such behaviour becomes cancerous vitiating the entire atmosphere.

At Pixar, the creative process is viewed as a group effort. While there is room for creative eccentricities, they do not let it affect group dynamics. They simply fire the creative person even though he might be the best. Following is the transcript about that from the interview. 

"[At Pixar] there is very high tolerance for eccentricity, very creative, and to the point where some are strange… but there are a small number of people who are socially dysfunctional [and] very creative – we get rid of them. If we don’t have a healthy group then it isn’t going to work. There is this illusion that this person is creative and has all this stuff, well the fact is there are literally thousands of ideas involved in putting something like this together. And the notion of ideas as this singular thing is a fundamental flaw. There are so many ideas that what you need is that group behaving creatively. And the person with the vision I think is unique, there are very few people who have that vision.. but if they are not drawing the best out of people then they will fail.

We will support the leader for as long and as hard as we can, but the thing we can not overcome is if they have lost the crew. It’s when the crew says we are not following that person. We say we are director led, which implies they make all the final decisions, [but] what it means to us is the director has to lead.. and the way we can tell when they are not leading is if people say ‘we are not following’."

Do you think an agency will dare to do this?

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