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Inside The Pixar Braintrust
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.
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Inside The Pixar Braintrust

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. 

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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.

More> Fast Company 

My model of management is the Beatles. The reason I say that is because each of the key people in the Beatles kept the others from going off in the directions of their bad tendencies.

They sort of kept each other in check. And then when they split up, they never did anything as good. It was the chemistry of a small group of people, and that chemistry was greater than the sum of the parts. And so John kept Paul from being a teenybopper and Paul kept John from drifting out into the cosmos, and it was magic. And George, in the end, I think provided a tremendous amount of soul to the group. I don’t know what Ringo did.

That’s the chemistry [at Pixar] between Ed [Catmull] and John [Lasseter] and myself. It’s worked pretty doggone well. We talk about things a lot, and sometimes one of us will want to do something that’s really stupid, or maybe not stupid but … oh, I don’t know … maybe not the wisest thing in the long run for the studio. And, you know, at least one of the other two will say, ‘Hey, you know, I think there’s a better way to do that.’ So we’ll all slow down and think it through, and we usually come up with a much better way.

Steve Jobs, October 2004, from The Lost Steve Jobs Tapes

"I had covered Jobs for Fortune and The Wall Street Journal since 1985, but I didn’t come to fully appreciate the importance of these “lost” years until after his death last fall. Rummaging through the storage shed, I discovered some three dozen tapes holding recordings of extended interviews—some lasting as long as three hours—that I’d conducted with him periodically over the past 25 years. (Snippets are scattered throughout this story.) Many I had never replayed—a couple hadn’t even been transcribed before now. Some were interrupted by his kids bolting into the kitchen as we talked. During others, he would hit the pause button himself before saying something he feared might come back to bite him. Listening to them again with the benefit of hindsight, the ones that took place during that interregnum jump out as especially enlightening.”

The Lost Steve Jobs Tapes

The Numberlys: With New iPad App, Ex-Pixar Designer Unleashes A Masterpiece

Moonbot Studios, which astounded us with “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore,” avoids the sophomore slump with its latest story-app.

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