Here’s what I responded
The difference between advising and owning, I think, is excellently expressed in the attached article, published in the September 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review: http://hbr.org/2008/09/how-pixar-fosters-collective-creativity/ar/1
Written by Ed Catmull, he knows what he speaks about, he is (has been – He is retired now I think) the founder and president of Pixar, and president of Disney’s Animation Studios.
Catmull explains how
1. The power is fully given to the “Creatives” (the team that’s gonna make the film)
2. He explains the role of what he calls the “Brain Trust” – basically eight directors – how it convenes to help the “Creatives”, and how the dynamics work: “The team has to decide what to do with the advice: how no mandatory notes are taken, how the brain trust has no authority” – I was flabbergasted to read about this practice
3. How a practice of working together is core to their culture, and is not limited to directors and producers, but extends to everyone. His examples is to explain how what they call “the dailies” work – a practice of giving and getting constant feed-back in a positive way
He also explains at length how Culture is key for this:
1. Everyone must have freedom to communicate with anyone
2. It must be safe for everyone to offer ideas
3. How they try to stay close to innovations happening in the academic world
4. How they stay on their rails by systematically fighting complacency and uncovering problems, through clear values, constant communication, routine post-mortems, and the regular injection of outsiders (for challenging status quo)
5. Regular and varying postmortems
6. Fresh blood to offset the NIH syndrome and the “awe-of-the-institution” syndrome
Another valuable resource is Ed Schein’s last book: “Helping”. I devoured it. A very thoughtful and in my opinion original approach which is to me the “synthesis” of his whole life experience. Small and readable. It will help you throughout your life.
Last but not least, are you aware of Carol Dweck’s book: Mindset? A must read, be it only for the benefit of you guiding your children and grandchildren through their early life. But it contains also very useful advice on how dramatic “dys-owning” people from their “development” successes and failures is transforming them into dependent and fatalist beings.
How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity
♦ Listen to Ed Catmull discuss managing creativity.
A few years ago, I had lunch with the head of a major motion picture studio, who declared that his central problem was not finding good people—it was finding good ideas. Since then, when giving talks, I’ve asked audiences whether they agree with him. Almost always there’s a 50/50 split, which has astounded me because I couldn’t disagree more with the studio executive. His belief is rooted in a misguided view of creativity that exaggerates the importance of the initial idea in creating an original product. And it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how to manage the large risks inherent in producing breakthroughs.