Friday, May 9, 2008

Innovation How-to from Pixar’s Leading Director

Pixar continues to deliver ground-breaking innovative pictures time after time. The McKinsey Quarterly recently sat down with Brad Bird, Pixar’s two-time Oscar winning director, and interviewed him on his approach to fostering innovation and creativity in his teams.

Here are some of his approaches as detailed in the interview:

Shake things up: Brad encouraged his team to use “cheats” to create effects that they thought were not possible.

“You can build a flying saucer, or you can take a pie plate and fling it across the screen. If the audience only sees the pie plate very briefly and you throw it just right, they will buy it as a flying saucer.”

Hire Involved People: People who innovate time and time again are actively engaged in the progress of the project. They are consistently asking themselves how to better situations, and how to solve problems.

Improve Dynamics Between Teams: Companies work with different departments on a daily basis. The trick here is to effectively combine all collaborative ideas, and implement that creativity in a harmonious way.

Get Your Team to Collaborate: Very often we find that employees do not speak up when they have creative ideas. How do we break this mold? Brad critiqued and analyzed his team’s work in front of everyone, thus humiliating and encouraging together. Within a matter of months, people became more comfortable shouting out ideas, since meetings became so open.

Improve Morale: Productivity levels will drop for employees who do not feel invested in their work. Give workers a chance to voice their opinions and ideas, and morale throughout the company will be boosted.

This approach has helped shape the creative culture at Pixar. Listen to Brad Bird talk about his thoughts on how ideas become visual through animation.

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