Social Technology and Lessons from Pixar

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The other night I watched a documentary on BBC 3 about 25 years of Pixar Animation and it got me thinking about technology and in particular social technology. (UK folk should still be able to view this on BBC iPlayer)

I’m not talking about how Pixar run social media campaigns, to be honest I don’t know if they do (I suppose I’d know if they did 🙂 ), however what struck me from the programme was a comment by Chief Creative Officer – John Lasseter. He referred to his first pitch to Disney for a fully CGI animation and his boss (or similar position) replied – “how much is this going to cost?” Lasseter replied “the same as a normal film!”. He was then released from Disney shortly afterwards.

Now the lesson I learned and if you have watched any Pixar film you will know they are utterly amazing and will blow you away with how realistic the animation is – Water in the Incredibles and Finding Nemo, Complex environments in Wall-E, Finding Nemo, Cars and A Bugs Life, Body Hair in Monster’s Inc, 25,000 balloons in Up!!, the list really does go on….. They really have pushed animation forward and in my opinion film making in general.

Anyway on to my lesson….(can you tell I’m a big Pixar fan)

Just because they used advanced technology techniques and embraced innovation and creativity, it didn’t mean that they could cut corners or deliver things faster, because what mattered was the output – in this case Excellence in Animation.

Now I know the current climate in Public Sector won’t really support this kind of approach, however my issue is that in order to deliver the changes and culture we need to move toward a more efficient public service, we need “time” and social technology will NOT fast track us to this end game, just like animation it requires hard work, knowledgeable people who can multi-task and the biggest thing a strong commitment from all parts of the organisation that you are doing what is right – not just for the business, but for your customers, service users etc.

Pixar has in my humble opinion never released a bad film, I’ve watched all their movies with my kids and on my own…Pixar’s key focus is to NOT separate the Adults from the Kids when making films. This focus on the audience and user is critical and is another lesson the public service could learn from.

I know life is probably simpler in Pixar and it is far more complicated in the Public Service, but the lessons are there – we just need to look for them.

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3 thoughts on “Social Technology and Lessons from Pixar

  1. I think your last sentence pretty much sums it up Carl. Essentially if you’re going to do something properly it’s enevitable that you’ll have to throw either copious amounts of time or big bucks at it. We have neither. We do, for the most part, have ‘the will’ – ‘the way’ is not as obvious. Commercial business will always take a punt, especially if it’s going to make them money. The Pixar story is of sucess – but what you don’t hear are the failures along the way. The public sector and not about making money – only providing ‘value’. We can’t afford expensive ‘mistakes’ (although we seem to make them from time to time) – the nack is to learn from them. Unfortunately as we are ‘playing’ with public money thus no one wants to admit a mistake.

  2. You are right Lynda, mistakes are assigned to people, who are worried they might lose thre job. However we could all lose our jobs soon, so we may as well fail faster and learn faster :o)

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