Pixar recently released their latest film, WALL-E. It has set records for tickets sales, provided tons of watercooler chatter, and loads of pop culture commentary. The reviews are so strong, there is talk it might be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture--a slot not filled since Beauty and the Beast in 1991. (Animation has its own category)
The real story is that Pixar has generated nine consecutive number one movies--no other studio has a record anywhere near that in terms of both commercial and critical success. So how do they do it? How do they achieve such a high--and consistent--performance level?
They hire staff for the long-term--by creating a unique place to collaborate, learn, grow (and with a physically cool workspace as well). One unique benefit they have put into place is Pixar University. All employees take classes ranging from improv to animation--with over 110 classes to choose from. You might be in a class with an executive, a chef and an animator. Everyone is on equal footing, everyone is learning about creativity. Even if some people have better innate skills than others, the point is to teach people new ways to think and approach a project.
Another way Pixar is different than typical Hollywood is that they don't bring people together on a project only to disband when it is complete. Think about what your workplace would be like if everyone knew that they would be working together for the long term, having successes, recovering from challenges--all for the greater good.
- Would you be able to unleash more innovation?
- Attract the best talent?
- Create enduring connections with customers?
Now it's time to think about how to take the Pixar ideas of innovation and bring them into your business.
Can you begin conversations about who you are as a company--and what you're fighting for? The Executive Chairman of Southwest Airlines will tell you they are in the "freedom business", not air travel--a distinctive perspective that shapes all aspects of their business.
What is your business? Providing your customers peace-of-mind? Being your customers' "safety net"?
Companies can create transformation points--where they either move in new directions or go back to a commitment they aspired to at the beginning (like being in the freedom business) and use it to reignite themselves. Even if you are in a mature firm, the way business is being conducted may not reflect your current marketplace. It might be time to think hard about how you can bring people together just like Pixar does--for the long term.
Unleash a little bit of maverick in yourself and see where can impact your company.