Get Creative or Get Left Behind

creativity, Inc.

This is a book that EVERY leader of all industries must read because heaven knows all companies can use a little (if not a lot) of Creativity in this fast changing world.

If you are going to learn about the culture of Creativity from anyone, why not learn from the people who made it an artform.

Pixar completely took the movie industry by storm by creating well-loved and completely original films with 14 films landing at the #1 spot in the Box Office on opening week.

14 out of 15 films produced by Pixar debuted #1 in the Box Offices!

“Inside Out” opened a close second to the highly anticipated Jurassic World. I suspect if it had debuted at any other week it would have landed the #1 spot as well.

Once is a fluke, Twice can be luck but batting 93% average at the #1 spot is a Lifestyle… a testament to the culture of a corporation.

Reading this book was inspiring. How does Pixar inspire creativity and excellence from their staff?  Here are some of my favorites…

1.  No Hierarchy among Staff 

“If there is more truth in the hallways than in meetings, you have a problem”

In Pixar, Ed Catmull describes a carefully crafted culture to allow anyone from the CEO to the intern to give ideas or criticism without fear of backlash.  They recognize that great ideas can come from ANYWHERE.  The only way to draw the best from the staff is to make sure anyone can speak frankly, freely.  They are so committed to this that they don’t have designated parking spaces for their heads.

In Pixar, no one is more or less important.

This is an especially significant point to consider in the Philippine setting where the hierarchical structure in companies are so defined and fostered by management.

2.  Focus on what needs to be fixed instead of who is to be blamed.

“Ask yourself what happens when an error is discovered….Is the question being asked: Whose fault is this? If so, your culture is one that vilifies failure… If you create a fearless culture… people will be much less hesitant to explore new areas… then charging down them.”

Pixar is so committed to this that Ed Catmull tells a story about an employee accidentally erasing years of work on Toy Story 2.  Instead of wasting time trying to find out who made the mistake, they focused on how to solve the problem and created safeguards to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  To this day no one knows who accidentally erased the hard-drives.  This is a very Japanese concept, which allows staff to make mistakes in the process of discovery without fear of reprisal.

3.  Hire the RIGHT people

“What they will be capable of tomorrow is more important than what they can do today.”

Pixar opened their doors to OJT’s in order to identify talent because sometimes it’s better to look at a person’s values, potential and work ethic and just train them yourself.

4.  Lose the insecurity and the pride

“Try to hire people who are smarter than you.”

A lot of people are scared to hire people smarter than they are because they are afraid of being replaced.  Truth is, companies can only progress if you surround yourself with talented and smart people.  Make yourself replaceable and the company will make faster strides than if you’re doing everything alone.

5.  Do not be afraid to make mistakes

“The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.”

Going into uncharted territories makes mistakes inevitable.  It’s part of the territory.  That’s the only way to innovate.

6.  Trust your Staff

“Rules can simplify life for managers, but they can be demeaning to the 95 percent who behave well.”

It isn’t necessary to make many rules to control your staff’s behaviour which can and will demean them and make them less effective at their jobs.  If you don’t trust your staff, then you need to change your staff lineup because they aren’t a fit.  The staff will probably be happier at a different job.

7.  Make your product, whatever it may be, GREAT.

…John coined a new phrase: “Quality is the best business plan.” What he meant was that quality is not a consequence of following some set of behaviours.  Rather, it is a prerequisite and a mindset you must have before you decide what you are setting out to do… They must live, think, and breathe it.”

With a great product, everything else will follow. Don’t skimp and don’t assume your consumer won’t notice the difference… they aren’t stupid.  With the age of social media, you can’t afford to make a bad product.

However, be careful to distinguish between HAVING a great product and only THINKING you have a great product…

“Excellence, quality and good should be earned words, attributed by others to us, not proclaimed by us about ourselves.”


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