In This Exclusive Excerpt From Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull Unveils One Of His Management Tools — The Pixar Braintrust, Which Has Helped The Animation Powerhouse Score 14 Box-Office Hits In A Row.
A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Our decision making is better when we draw on the collective knowledge and unvarnished opinions of the group. Candor is the key to collaborating effectively. Lack of candor leads to dysfunctional environments. So how can a manager ensure that his or her working group, department, or company embraces candor? By putting mechanisms in place that explicitly say it is valuable. One of Pixar’s key mechanisms is the Braintrust, which we rely on to push us toward excellence and to root out mediocrity. It is our primary delivery system for straight talk. The Braintrust meets every few months or so to assess each movie we’re making. Its premise is simple: Put smart, passionate people in a room together, charge them with identifying and solving problems, and encourage them to be candid. The Braintrust is not foolproof, but when we get it right, the results are phenomenal.
"I love how Focus is a sustained look at our addiction to screens and devices and the countless external distractions that threaten to take us further from ourselves and the people we love. His lesson—that ‘full attention is a form of love’—is something we can all learn from and take to heart." —Arianna Huffington
“I can picture Steve [Jobs] running into the Macintosh design group and saying really excitedly, ‘We’ve got this fantastic concept.’ His idea was that a nontechnical secretary should be able to go into a room alone with a Mac in a box and a letter opener and be doing useful work in one hour.”
The basic premise of Oyster's invite-only iPhone app, which launches today, is simple: For a flat fee of $9.95 per month, members will gain access to Oyster's catalog of more than 100,000 (and growing) books, which at launch includes titles from hundreds of publishers, including HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the large e-books distributor Smashwords.
Oyster makes two promises to book lovers on the go: great simplicity and great discovery. Check it out.
"I designed the boot image-a happy Mac-because we wanted the computer to be friendly. That was a word we tossed around a lot. The icon was inspired by those yellow smiley-face buttons, of course, and by the kind of things I used to draw when I was fourteen years old. We did the happy Mac, and then we did the unhappy Mac, which was never supposed to be seen. You know, like the bomb.”
Our new book, “Design Crazy," is the first oral history of Apple design, as told by the designers who were there. It’s fascinating. Check it out.