Ed Catmull with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter are the founders of Pixar Animation Studio. The atmosphere at Pixar is something I had heard about but wanted to learn more. Whether we are looking at a studio that is in need of a success - it took eight years before Toy Story came up for them as a big winner, or at a school in need of improvement for test scores, there were some great tips given by Catmull throughout the book.
Building a team is one of the most important tasks a manager and a leader need to do. When Pixar merged back into Disney as Disney's animation team floundered, it was important for the Disney team to not feel like the Pixar team was there to save them. It was important to have the Disney team pick up its own pride and learn to function as a team by being submerged into an atmosphere of trust and communication.
A few of the chestnuts that are delivered in the book include:
- If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
- It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.
- A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody
should be able to talk to anybody.
- Do not assume that general agreement will lead to change—it takes substantial energy to move a group, even when all are on board.
Catmull urges his people to "fail big and fail fast" because others can learn so much from it and move on. This may not go over well with the school board or the community; however, we are indeed slow to change because of our hesitancy to rock the boat or to make a mistake. If all the energy that was spent in covering our backsides and going slow to prevent mistakes, was instead put into the solution of the problem, we might see some greater progress toward the goals we set. We might even see some more authentic goals that meet our students' needs.