From the dream of making the world’s first computer-animated movie, to the creation of Pixar, Ed Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made his company dominate the world of animation.
Favorite quotes from the book:
Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
There is nothing quite as effective, when it comes to shutting down alternative viewpoints, as being convinced you are right.
You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged. To set up a healthy feedback system, you must remove power dynamics from the equation - you must enable yourself, in other words, to focus on the problem, not the person.
In a fear-based, failure-averse culture, people will consciously or unconsciously avoid risk. They will seek instead to repeat something safe that’s been good enough in the past. Their work will be derivative, not innovative. But if you can foster a positive understanding of failure, the opposite will happen.
When experimentation is seen as necessary and productive, not as a frustrating waste of time, people will enjoy their work - even when it is confounding them.
There are two parts to any failure: There is the event itself, with all its attendant disappointment, confusion, and shame, and then there is our reaction to it. It is this second part that we control.
We cling as long as possible to the perceived “safe” place that we already know, refusing to loosen our grip until we feel sure another safe place awaits.
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.
If you don’t try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.