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Unlocking Pixar's Creativity

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Unlocking Pixar's Creativity

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These slides are from a presentation which I gave on the creative culture of Pixar, as told by Ed Catmull in his recently-published book titled Creativity, Inc.

These slides are from a presentation which I gave on the creative culture of Pixar, as told by Ed Catmull in his recently-published book titled Creativity, Inc.

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Unlocking Pixar's Creativity

  1. 1. 了解⽪皮克斯创新的秘密 Understanding the Creative Secrets of Wednesday, July 30th Presented by Charlie
  2. 2. To learn about the secrets of Pixar, you only need to speak to one person. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success His name is Ed Catmull.
  3. 3. Pixar Co-Founder Ed Catmull • A legend in the field of computer graphics. Computer Science major and a Ph.D • Co-founded Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter and has been its president for 30 years • Became President of Disney Animation and brought it back to glory with Frozen, the highest grossing animated movie of all time ($1.2 billion) • Created “The Hand” in 1972 and invented Z-Buffering, among other industry innovations Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  4. 4. Also in 1972
  5. 5. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success Creativity, Inc. Ed Catmull spent 20 years realizing his dream to create the world’s first animated feature film. After achieving this goal, he spent 10 years making sure Pixar was strong. After achieving that goal, he spent 10 years making sure Disney was strong. Then, he decided to write a book about everything he’s learned. That book was the first look “inside” Pixar, and is called Creativity, Inc.
  6. 6. 40 Years of Ed Catmull 20 YEARS 10 YEARS 10 YEARS Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success Fighting for the first animated feature film Strengthening Pixar Strengthening Disney
  7. 7. What’s So Special About Pixar? • Generated $8.5 billion in 14 films with an average grossing of $600 million • Bought by Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion • Has won 27 Academy Awards (aka Oscars) • Has NINE number-1 hit movies in a row, which no studio has ever done before • But the most important thing is… Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  8. 8. What’s So Special About Pixar? Pixar has perfected the science and art of creativity inside a large organization. Pixar has grown large and become more creative, not less creative. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success How did they do this?
  9. 9. Clearly, something was causing a dangerous disconnect at many smart , creative companies. What, exactly, was a mystery— and one I was determined to figure out. In the difficult year after Toy Story’s debut, I came to realize that trying to solve this mystery would be my next challenge. My desire to protect Pixar from the forces that ruin so many businesses gave me renewed focus. I began to see my role as a leader more clearly. I would devote myself to learning how to build not just a successful company but a sustainable creative culture. As I turned my attention from solving technical problems to engaging with the philosophy of sound management, I was excited once again— and sure that our second act could be as exhilarating as our first. Ed Catmull Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  10. 10. 8 Secrets to Pixar’s Legendary Creativity Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success What makes Pixar so different?
  11. 11. #1. Don’t Work Too Hard Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  12. 12. #1: Don’t Work Too Hard • Managers believe that more hours means more revenue, but they’re wrong • Working too many hours depletes both productivity and creativity • At Pixar and Blizzard, you will get in trouble for working too many hours Pixar: 40 hour work week except pre-release crunch Blizzard: 40 hour workweek Industrial Light & Magic: 45 hours Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  13. 13. #1: Don’t Work Too Hard If we are in this for the long haul, we have to take care of ourselves, support healthy habits, and encourage our employees to have fulfilling lives outside of work. Moreover, everyone’s home lives change as they— and their children, if they have them—age. This means creating a culture in which taking maternity or paternity leave is not seen as an impediment to career advancement. That may not sound revolutionary, but at many companies, parents know that taking that leave comes at a cost; a truly committed employee, they are wordlessly told, wants to be at work. That’s Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success not true at Pixar. Ed Catmull
  14. 14. #1: Don’t Work Too Hard Supporting your employees means encouraging them to strike a balance not merely by saying, “Be balanced!” but also by making it easier for them to achieve balance. (Having a swimming pool, a volleyball court, and a soccer field on-site tells our workers that we value exercise and a life beyond the desk.) But leadership also means paying close attention to ever-changing dynamics in the workplace. For example, when our younger employees— those without families — work longer hours than those who are parents, we must be mindful not to compare the output of these two groups without being mindful of the context. I’m not talking just about the health of our employees here; I’m talking about their long-term productivity and happiness. Investing in this stuff pays dividends Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success down the line. Ed Catmull
  15. 15. Lesson: Just working hard is never the key to success. In creative industries, working too hard can make you fail. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  16. 16. #2: Don’t Focus on Preventing Problems • Problems will happen naturally, no person or company will stop them • Problems aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Use them to become stronger • When people are worried about making mistakes, their performance suffers greatly Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  17. 17. #2: Don’t Focus on Preventing Problems “What makes Pixar special is that we acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view ; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and that, when we come across a problem, we marshal all of Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success our energies to solve it.” Ed Catmull
  18. 18. Lesson: Problems naturally occur. Focus on how you respond to problems, rather than how you can prevent them. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  19. 19. #3: Encourage Personality • Personalization builds empathy, which is the power to love something • Steve Jobs helped design Pixar’s headquarters, but employees build their own spaces, which they take great pride in • Pixar believes that a boring office reflects boring people who lack inspiration Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  20. 20. #3: Encourage Personality The animators who work here are free to— no, encouraged to— decorate their work spaces in whatever style they wish. They spend their days inside pink dollhouses whose ceilings are hung with miniature chandeliers, tiki huts made of real bamboo, and castles whose meticulously painted, fifteen-foot-high styrofoam turrets appear to be carved from stone . Annual company traditions include “Pixarpalooza,” where our in-house rock bands battle for dominance, shredding their hearts out on stages we erect on our front lawn. The point is, we value self-expression here. Ed Catmull Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  21. 21. Ten images taken from inside Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success Pixar to demonstrate.
  22. 22. Pixar working space
  23. 23. Pixar common area
  24. 24. Pixar meeting area
  25. 25. Pixar Meeting Areas
  26. 26. Pixar Lobby
  27. 27. Pixar Conference Rooms
  28. 28. John Lasseter’s office
  29. 29. John Lasseter with toy cars
  30. 30. Pixar hallway
  31. 31. Individual working space
  32. 32. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success Inside Pixar, you can feel everyone’s personality. Nothing about the office communicates “this is a normal place of work.”
  33. 33. Lesson: Everyone has interests. Encourage people in your team to show off what inspires them. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  34. 34. #4: The Most Important Thing is How Your Product Makes People Feel • It’s not a feature set or technology, it’s how people emotionally respond • Machine Zone & Gabriel Leydon promote this idea in GoW • When you make a great product, people will talk to others how it makes them feel, not any of the technical details Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  35. 35. #4: The Most Important Thing is How Your Product Makes People Feel The first principle we adopted after Toy Story was “Story Is King,” by which we meant that we would let nothing— not the technology, not the merchandising possibilities— get in the way of our story. We took pride in the fact that reviewers talked mainly about the way Toy Story made them feel and not about the computer wizardry that Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success enabled us to get it up on the screen. Ed Catmull
  36. 36. #4: The Most Important Thing is How Your Product Makes People Feel With the addition of Wheezy and Jessie, Woody’s choice became more fraught: He could stay with someone he loves, knowing that he will eventually be discarded, or he could flee to a world where he could be pampered forever, but without the love that he was built for. That is a real choice, a real question. The way the creative team phrased it to each other was: Would you choose to live forever without love? When you can feel the agony of that choice, you have a movie. Ed Catmull Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  37. 37. What’s more important and why: an amazing idea or an amazing team? Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success And now a quick question:
  38. 38. #5: People Are Most Important • Strong teams can generate an infinite number of amazing ideas • Having amazing ideas doesn’t matter if you don’t have an amazing team to execute it “If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.” Ed Catmull Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  39. 39. • Released in 1999, delivered on time • Made $500 million (on a $90m budget) • $300m in first weekend, 10x Toy Story • Won 2 Oscars • Considered one of the best animated films of all time • Almost destroyed Pixar Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  40. 40. #5: People Are Most Important Toy Story 2 was a wakeup call. Going forward, the needs of a movie could never again outweigh the needs of our people. We needed to do more to keep them healthy . As soon as we wrapped the film, we set about addressing the needs of our injured, stressed-out employees and coming up with strategies to prevent future deadline pressures from hurting our workers again. These strategies went beyond ergonomically designed workstations, yoga classes, and physical therapy. Toy Story 2 was a case study in how something that is usually considered a plus— a motivated, workaholic workforce pulling together to make a deadline— could destroy itself if left Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success unchecked. Ed Catmull
  41. 41. #5: People Are Most Important Here, in rapid succession, we’d had two failures and one success, all of them random, all of them unforeseen. The real lesson of the event, though, was in how we dealt with its aftermath. In short, we didn’t waste time playing the blame game. After the loss of the film, our list of priorities, in order, were: (1) Restore the film; (2) Fix our backup systems; (3) Install precautionary restrictions to make it much more difficult to Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success access the deletion command directly. Notably, one item was not on our list: Find the person responsible who typed the wrong command and punish him or her. Ed Catmull
  42. 42. Lesson: Getting the right people is more important than getting the right idea. Take care of people and they will produce for you. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  43. 43. #6: Winning Companies Destroy • When you become fearful of trying new things, creativity dies • When team members feel fear, it is never unreasonable Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success Fear and Build Trust If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it. And, for leaders especially, this strategy— trying to avoid failure by out-thinking it— dooms you to fail. Ed Catmull
  44. 44. #6: Winning Companies Destroy Fear Fear can be created quickly; trust can’t. Leaders must demonstrate their trustworthiness, over time, through their actions— and the best way to do that is by responding well to failure. If there is fear, there is a reason— our job is to find the reason and to remedy it. Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build the Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success ability to recover. Ed Catmull and Build Trust
  45. 45. Lesson: Discover and eliminate fear by being Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success honest and earning trust.
  46. 46. #7: Don’t Abandon Your Values • Have values, and don’t abandon them when facing challenges • Values are more important than goals. Quality and originality are more important than deadlines or revenue. If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it. And, for leaders especially, this strategy— trying to avoid failure by out-thinking it— dooms you to fail. Ed Catmull Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success
  47. 47. #7: Don’t Abandon Your Values I often say that managers of creative enterprises must hold lightly to goals and firmly to intentions. What does that mean? It means that we must be open to having our goals change as we learn new information or are surprised by things we thought we knew but didn’t. As long as our intentions— our values— remain constant, our goals can shift as needed. At Pixar, we try never to waver in our ethics, our values, and our intention to create original, quality products. We are willing to adjust our goals as we learn, striving to get it right— not necessarily to get it right the first time. Because that, to my mind, is the only way to establish something else that is essential to Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success creativity: a culture that protects the new. Ed Catmull
  48. 48. Lesson: Commitment to quality and values is more important to long-term success than Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success other goals.
  49. 49. • Pixar values originality and quality over everything else. They share this value with Apple. • Originality requires a lot of research. Research trips are now part of Pixar’s production process. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success #8: Be Original When filmmakers, industrial designers, software designers, or people in any other creative profession merely cut up and reassemble what has come before, it gives the illusion of creativity, but it is craft without art. Ed Catmull
  50. 50. Even though copying what’s come before is a guaranteed path to mediocrity, it appears to be a safe choice, and the desire to be safe— to succeed with minimal risk —can infect not just individuals but also entire companies. If we sense that our structures are rigid, inflexible, or bureaucratic, we must bust them open— without destroying ourselves in the process. The question of how to do this must continually be addressed—there is no single answer— because conditions and people are constantly in flux. Whenever filmmakers make a derivative presentation to John, he will often stop them, urging them to slow down, and look beyond what they think they already know. “You must,” he tells them, “go out and do research.” Ed Catmull Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success #8: Be Original
  51. 51. Lesson: Copying can feel like the safe choice, but it’s not. True success demands originality Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success in creative industries.
  52. 52. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success Overview: #1: Don’t Work Too Hard #2: Don’t Focus on Preventing Problems #3: Encourage Personality #4: The Most Important Thing is How Your Product Makes People Feel #5: People Are Most Important #6: Winning Companies Destroy Fear and Build Trust #7: Don’t Abandon Your Values #8: Be Original
  53. 53. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success About Creativity, Inc. “Just might be the best business book ever written.” Forbes “The most practical and deep book ever written by a practitioner on the topic of innovation.” Harvard Business School “Might be the most thoughtful management book ever.” Fast Company
  54. 54. Secrets of Pixar’s Creative Success Questions

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