How Pixar Makes Decisions

by - m on 07/26/2010

EDITOR’S NOTE: The information in this edition is taken from Tom Davenport’s blog at the Harvard Business Review. 

Pixar is a forward-thinking and successful animation studio responsible for a string of money-making films like the Toy Story franchise. How Pixar operates is a terrific example of the value of teams and the importance of collaboration in a successful media company. It also illustrates how important acquiring communications skills is in today’s creative workplace.

Here are some highlights.

Even though directors have autonomy, they get feedback from others.

Pixar uses a process for “postmortems” on the major aspects of movies after they’re completed. During the postmortems, the team involved in the film is asked to come up with five things they’d do again and five things they wouldn’t do again. Postmortems not only surface the information but also help to prevent the problems from festering among team members.

Pixar admits mistakes in other ways. Sometimes, when a movie project isn’t going well, Pixar will “restart” it. Toy Story 2, for example, wasn’t going well and had to be restarted.

Pixar has an extensive education program at Pixar University, with more than 110 different courses. That’s got to improve organizational judgment. And even there, employees are encouraged to make and admit mistakes.

– T.D. Boss

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