Management

Manage Innovation the Pixar Way

The real creativity leader during the late 1990s and early 2000s was Pixar.

August 18, 2010
KEYWORDS disney , leadership , pixar
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Subscribe to Credit Union MagazineCU Mag: How can an organization encourage risk-taking, especially during these poor economic times?

Capodagli: As children, we learn by exploration and discovery. We try something, fail, and try again.

Organizations need to do that. They need to learn to fail forward fast rather than being risk-averse during these tough times.

We need to embrace risk and try new things, but be able to react quickly to them and make adjustments so they ultimately can be successful.

CU Mag: What are the best ways to improve employee morale?

Capodagli: We’ve about having fun, collaborating, and trusting. When people know they’re trusted in how they do their work and that their work is valued, that improves morale.

CU Mag: How can companies benefit by employing Pixar’s approach?

Capodagli: Disney, Pixar, Men’s Warehouse, and Nike have three to five times better turnover—that’s lower turnover—than their competitors.

Two studies have shown that replacing an employee making $8.50 per hour costs $10,000 to $12,000 for training, advertising, and service disruptions. If you’re doing three to five times better than your competitors, that gives you quite a competitive advantage.

CU Mag: What mistakes do some organizations make when they try to be more innovative?

Capodagli: We worked with one organization, an engineering group, that was trying to promote fun in the organization. It said that every Tuesday afternoon would be fun time.

People in the organization starting referring to this as FFT: forced fun time.

The problem organizations have is that they try to dictate a set of values rather than showing people why it’s important to embrace those values. If achieving great customer service was as simple as posting values on a wall, every organization would be innovative.

It’s a matter of embracing those values, and seeing examples of leadership embracing those values, that really makes organizations innovative, creative, and customer-centric.

Walt Disney was once asked, ‘What’s the secret to your success?’ He said he’d dream of things that never were, test those dreams against his values, dare to take the risk to make those dreams come true, and put plans in place to make those dreams become reality.

Pixar’s ‘dare, dream, do’ philosophy is alive and well. You need to dream like a child, believe in your playmates, dare to jump in the water and make waves, and unleash your childlike potential.

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