Collective Creativity is Key to Pixar’s Success

Programmer and Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull leads by empowering others to achieve. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, he describes the architecture of Pixar’s Success: a community where people at all levels support one another.

A movie contains literally tens of thousands of ideas. They’re in the form of every sentence; in the performance of each line; in the design of characters, sets, and backgrounds; in the locations of the camera; in the colors, the lighting, the pacing. The director and the other creative leaders of a production do not come up with all the ideas on their own; rather, every single member of the 200- to 250-person production group makes suggestions. Creativity must be present at every level of every artistic and technical part of the organization. The leaders sort through a mass of ideas to find the ones that fit into a coherent whole—that support the story—which is a very difficult task. It’s like an archaeological dig where you don’t know what you’re looking for or whether you will even find anything. The process is downright scary.

Sounds like a damn good way to run a company.