Social Technology and Lessons from Pixar

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.

Why BBC, have you stopped a useful app? – BBC Quashes iPhone iPlayer App – PCWorld

It seems bizarre to me that a publically funded organisation would stop an application from becoming available that actually delivers very very good functionality and offers the same level of service to an iphone as you would get from there website.

I must question the motives of the BBC here.

“We were given a cease and desist order by the BBC legal department despite our best efforts to try and meet the BBC’s requirements in any way possible,” Newby said.

“We were willing to make the app available for free and consume the development costs ourselves but this was also quashed.”

Rewat.ch would also have enabled users to download episodes from the BBC iPlayer service for the length of time set by the corporation. For the first time it would have been possible to watch BBC shows on the way to work, for example, on a tube or train.

via BBC Quashes iPhone iPlayer App – PCWorld.

I am a regulary user of the BBC iPlayer and often catch up with shows using a wifi connection – but this app would have solved the portability of the service to wifi black spots.

It would have also provided notification of when my favourite shows were available.

The reasons behind this decision don’t make sense and the BBC’s own plans to develop iPhone apps do not indicate this level of functionality for the end user.

There is a great lesson here for the public sector as a whole. If someone wants to design a service based on your offering and makes it better and more accessible my recommendation is to allow them to do it but work with them to make sure it offers value to all involved.

Firms ‘miss’ social site success – BBC NEWS | Technology |

A positive story about social networking not being just about fighting ninja’s or snowboarder vs skiers. It does have business value and some Gartner research is highlighted in this article on the BBC.