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.

How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity – HBR.org

I am a massive fan of Pixar Animation studios, i love all the films they make as it brings out the big kid in me.  My kids also love the movies and we (i mean me) can’t wait for Cars 2 and Toy Story 3.

Why am i telling you this well i manged to link through to an article on Harvard Business Review about “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity”

The article is written by Ed Catmull  – co-founder of Pixar and the president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios.

Ed write’s

Pixar is a community in the true sense of the word. We think that lasting relationships matter, and we share some basic beliefs: Talent is rare. Management’s job is not to prevent risk but to build the capability to recover when failures occur. It must be safe to tell the truth. We must constantly challenge all of our assumptions and search for the flaws that could destroy our culture

If we could adopt this approach in the public sector, it would be an even better place to work.

The statement rings true to me in so many ways, we are a community and we are striving for lasting relationships with customers, residents and partners etc. However we are risk adverse and this stifles creativity. But we can and must change and i believe that we are on the journey now.