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Genuine insight from Pixar on managing effective teams

Ryan Singer from 37signals mentioned this vid from Stanford GSB

Pixar founder Ed Catmull addresses the question: “Why do ‘successful’ companies fail?”

What’s more important? Great people or great ideas?

Ed goes through some important things that have made Pixar awesome, like:

  • Undergo constant review - review it all every day - push through the embarrassment; make it so that 'when you’re done, you’re done’
  • Keep it safe to tell the truth
  • Communication and org structures shouldn’t necessarily match - everyone should be able to talk to anyone about anything; managers shouldn’t be precious about always being kept in the loop.
  • Don’t let success mask problems
  • Restructure the postmortem / retrospective - keep it fresh; allow it to be sufficiently in depth.

He also addresses the strange feature re company themes / mottos - they tend to be truisms - everyone knows they’re true; all competitors have pretty much the same one.

Sometimes having the pithy statement means we can say it and not change behaviour

There are, Ed surmises, two types of 'crisis’:

  • you don’t like what you see & have to make changes. People will have to change. It’s hard.
  • you finish and it’s rubbish (game over)

The first sort is a LOT better - it’s self-imposed. It’s harder. But it might actually work.

Bucketloads of ideas here for how I manage teams, methinks.