Fostering collective creativity at Pixar

Ed Catmull's article "How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity" is worth the price of the September 2008 Harvard Business Review.

A few nuggets from Pixar's president:

"The view that good ideas are rarer and more valuable than good people is rooted in a misconception of creativity."

"If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they'll screw it up. But if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they'll make it work."

"Clear values, constant communication, routine postmortems, and the regular injection of outsiders who will challenge the status quo aren't enough. Strong leadership is also essential — to make sure people don't pay lip service ot the values, tune out the communications, game the processes and automatically discount newcomers' observations and suggestions."

And my personal favourite, for any workplace where blindsiding the boss is a cardinal sin…

"Members of any department should be able to to approach anyone in another department to solve problems without having to go through proper channels. It also means that managers need to learn that they don't always have to be the first to know about something going on in their realm, and it's OK to walk into a meeting and be surprised. The most efficient way to deal with numerous problems is to trust people to work out the difficulties directly with each other without having to check for permission."

Published by

Jay Robb

I've reviewed more than 500 business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999 and worked in public relations since 1993.

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