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Innovate The Pixar Way

Summary

Quick book describing some of the attitudes, beliefs, practices and more that set Pixar apart and give it the best shot to keep innovating and producing the highest quality movies

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Summary

  1. Quick book describing some of the attitudes, beliefs, practices and more that set Pixar apart and give it the best shot to keep innovating and producing the highest quality movies

Key Takeaways

  1. Ed Catmull’s own hero is Disney himself – collective creativity within a corporate culture is never an accident. It begins with creative leadership that is trustworthy and in turn trusts others to accomplish big dreams. They refuse to take shortcuts and truly embody and live by the ideal that “quality is the best business plan of all”
  2. One of Pixar’s greatest attributes is their ability to view the world through the eyes of a child
    1. Helps create culture which rewards and cherishes imagination. Try new things and don’t fear results that are different from what you expected them to be
    2. Dream. Believe. Dare. Do
    3. Innovate. Don’t imitate!
  3. Childlike dreamers, producers of “good show”, champions of artists and protectors of an innovative culture are characteristics that Walt embedded in Disney and that Pixar also exhibits more than any other studio
  4. Instead of “meeting customer expectations,” start fulfilling their dreams
  5. “Give us the black sheep” – Brad Bird on who he wanted to work with on The Incredibles because they would most likely be the most frustrated and most passionate to make something great
  6. Short-term mindset and need for instant gratification stifles innovation
  7. Ultimate test of success is prosperity in long-term after original leader or founder is gone
  8. Dreams really can come true if you keep a long-term focus
  9. On Leadership – “The ability to establish and manage a creative climate in which individuals and teams are self-motivated to the successful achievement of long-term goals in an environment of mutual respect and trust.” – Walt Disney
  10. Creatives flourish when they unite to forge new frontiers and when they refuse to compromise their values – even if it means pushing back on unyielding, high-ranking bullies
  11. Encourage culture of failure to team
    1. Celebrate failure with the same intensity that you celebrate success
    2. Become a prototype junky
    3. Develop your own “skunk works”
    4. Dream BIG
    5. Don’t cry poor – find ways to be innovative even without a big budget
    6. Planning is OK but don’t be a slave to the plan
    7. Visually track and display progress
    8. Forget about long planning meetings and reports
    9. Easier to ask for forgiveness than permission
    10. You need a soul mate – find customer or supplier who is willing to refine prototypes and ideas
  12. Important of play – can’t get the most out of people long-term without burning out if don’t give enough breaks and have fun DURING the process
  13. Muhammad Ali and the “lonely hours” – the hours put in before sunrise, when no one is around, when you don’t have to train, are the hours that separate you and make you great
  14. Must have dignity and mutual respect from all sides in order to prosper as a firm
  15. Technology inspires art and art challenges technology
  16. Keys to innovation – story is king, displayed thinking techniques (storyboarding), improvise, “plus-ing” (as long as you keep pleasantly surprising the customer, the more they’ll keep coming back. If they ever stop coming, it’ll cost 10x as much to get them back), internal collaboration, external collaboration, prototype. try. learn. try again., work on cool projects (all about selling the dream), extensive training, fun and play, transparency from every level, celebrate (reward excellent failure and punish mediocre successes), establish a brain trust, the most successful are dreamers with deadlines, enact postmortems, quality is the best business plan
  17. Other innovative companies – Google, Griffin Hospital, Nike, Target, Zappos

What I got out of it

  1. Good, short, fun book on what it takes to be innovative