Scott Hodge

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How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity

Sep 2, 2008
4 Comments

Just read a great article in Harvard Business Review on How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity written by Pixar's president, Ed Catmull.  Here are a few notes:

Pixar's Operating Principles:

  1. Everyone must have the freedom to communicate with anyone.
    Icon_luxoThis means recognizing that the
    decision-making hierarchy and communication structure in organizations
    are two different things.  Members of any department should be able to
    approach anyone in another department to solve problems without having
    to go through "proper" channels. 

  2. It must be safe for everyone to offer ideas.
    We make a concerted effort to make it
    safe to criticize by inviting everyone……to email notes to the
    creative leaders that detail what they liked and didn't like and
    explain why.

  3. We must stay close to innovations happening in the academic community.
    It helps us attract exceptional talent and reinforces the belief throughout the company that people are more important than ideas. 

A few quotes:

Management's job is not to prevent risk but to build the capability to recover when failures occur. 

It must be safe to tell the truth.

We must constantly challenge all of our assumptions and search for the flaws that could destroy our culture.

Creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great many problems.

Creativity must be present at every level of every artistic and technical part of the organization.

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

Our philosophy is this: You get great creative people , you bet big on them, you give them enormous leeway and support, and you provide them with an environment in which they can get honest feedback from everyone.


4 Responses to “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity”

  1. D.Lake says:

    Thanks for the summary Scott. It seems they do nothing half way.

  2. Scott – Thanks for posting these tips from the article. I appreciate the synopsis. They do great work at Pixar and I know that I have a lot to learn about fostering creativity.

  3. Mike says:

    Yep. I got this HBR edition too. Nothing really new in it. This is basic business principles that I see every day.
    The Israeli Army has an even more advanced form of this.

  4. Hi,
    Thanks for this post Scott. It will really help me a great deal. Keep up the good work.
    Professional Business Plan

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