Management

Dare, Do, Dream

How to innovate like a Pixarian.

March 25, 2011
KEYWORDS dream , pixar
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Pixar Animation’s John Lasseter faced a Herculean task as he embarked on the production of the movie Toy Story 2: How could he possibly make it as good as the original?

Daunted by high expectations and intense media interest in the sequel, Lasseter vowed not to let his standards slip, consultant and author Bill Capodagli told the 18th Annual CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference.

Lasseter took several steps to ensure the quality of Toy Story 2 remained high.

First, he selected employees who were as passionate about the film as he was, and who exhibited these traits:

  • Proficiency. People who are very good at what they do and who exhibit remarkable tenacity.
  • Depth. People who have a wide variety of interests outside the workplace.
  • Communication and collaboration. People who will work with others to achieve a common goal.

“Pixar goes to great lengths to make sure employees are a group of creative people who are, first and foremost, collaborative teammates,” Capodgli says. “That means they try to accomplish a common goal based on a lot of different skills. Team is everything.”

Lasseter also:

• Focused on quality. All Pixar employees were allowed to take four hours of education per week in classes ranging from drawing to self-defense. When asked why accountants should learn to draw, Lasseter replied, “We’re teaching them to be more observant.”

"Quality is the best business plan," he once said.

• Embraced fun. One day, Lasseter brought his son’s scooter to work and rode it around the building. The following weekend, some Pixar staff scoured local garage sales for used scooters and brought several to work the next week.

“The scooter became Pixar’s symbol of fun,” Capodagli says, noting that such efforts boost an organization’s creativity and create a fun work atmosphere.

• Embraced risk-taking. As children, we learn by exploration and discovery: We try something, fail, and try again, Capodagli explains.

“Organizations need to do that,” he says. “They need to embrace risk and try new things, but be able to make adjustments so they ultimately can be successful.”

Lasseter ultimately achieved his goal: Toy Story 2 earned $120 million more than the original and became a classic among animated films.

“Pixar’s ‘dare, dream, do’ philosophy is alive and well,” Capodagli says. “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.”

Innovate or Die

Mark Arnold
March 31, 2011 1:19 pm
Credit unions must innovate or die. Of course, that is much easier said than done. Matt Davis, of the Filene Research Institute notes that "innovation is not an optional initiative." Matt has good Q&A about credit unions developing new and different products. Check out this recent post for more information: blog.markarnold.com.


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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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