Monday, September 6, 2010

Go Far with... PIXAR! :D

This article was a very informative yet at the same time a light read because it sort of brings out what’s supposed to be common sense when talking about creativity and creative processes. I saw the point in all the dealings that Pixar has to go through in order to generate a successful movie and I agreed to them. This is why I said it’s almost like common sense – the dynamic methods that Pixar follows would make one say “yes of course that’s what you’re supposed to do when trying to foster creativity.” Yet, most companies don’t actually do these things in order to improve their work. It’s amazing how the people at Pixar REALIZE what needs to be done and actually APPLY these developments successfully to the company and its teams.

I think it is very important to realize the “openness” in the meaning of creativity in order to encourage it. What inspired me to come to this observation is Pixar’s sense of community and communication within that community. Everyone in the company contributes and communicates. There’s a sense of equality and trust that these people have in one another that they can do their jobs properly, and that all contributions are accepted, regardless of what position you hold. It was mentioned in the article that Pixar tries to construct “an environment that nurtures trusting and respectful relationships and unleashes everyone’s creativity.” In order for school or work to encourage creativity then, people have to look at it as openly as possible. For example, we can’t think of creativity merely as something that only artists can do/have. We have to think that creativity is what we make of it. We have to think that creativity is in all of us – it just needs to be nurtured, in this sense then, we can foster it because it is something we have in ourselves; it is something that is shared. Everyone will be encouraged to participate in situations involving creativity if we finally develop the mindset that creativity is in all of us. It is up to us to unleash it, and it is up to the people around us to help (like Pixar) cultivate an environment that encourages it – whether in school or at work. When we condition ourselves to think this way, or when we finally realize the “openness” in creativity then we can apply it to more concrete instances – situations in school and in work:

If we have this environment in school and in work, then ideas can flow freely without restrictions. In the first place, it is because of restrictions, such as fear of rejection, that people don’t mention ideas that could eventually be the start of something successful. A similar and very simple concept could be contributing in group work. Take our creativity class and what we are currently working on – innovating to improve a certain situation/phenomenon. If a group is brainstorming on how to develop or innovate and one group member imposes authority in such a way that only his/her ideas are what he/she accepts as good ones, then other group members would be discouraged to contribute ideas – ideas which could very possibly be better or more creative. If this certain self-appointed-group-leader-who-thinks-he-has-all-the-right-ideas realizes the “openness” of creativity, I believe he/she would be more willing to accept more ideas; in the same sense the other group mates would not hesitate to contribute and discuss their ideas and chip in a little bit of their own creativity. Thankfully though, my Com207 group mates and I are all actively creative and we have no self-appointed-group-leader-who-thinks-he-has-all-the-right-ideas (haha, hi group mates!). If educators, regardless of what field, realize and apply this “openness” of creativity in their work in school, then it will be reflected in the students. The openness of the meaning of creativity implies that everyone has it in them and can develop it, thus everyone can and should be encouraged to contribute to different activities.

Aside from great teamwork and communication, Pixar had another great way of promoting creativity – . “Pixar’s customers expect to see something new every time. That’s downright scary. But if Pixar’s executives aren’t always a little scared, they’re not doing their jobs.” This means that they always have to take huge risks. I believe by taking risks, you can unleash the potential of creativity. It is when you risk something, you think of all the creative ways to make that risk work. An example would be one from home. My dad and my lolo take care of the family business – construction. My dad told me about this bet one time (I called him just to make sure the facts are straight). They were supposed to be pouring concrete and my lolo said it could only be finished in 16 days. There was no way that the whole process could be finished anytime sooner, which is why they had to fix their schedules and allot that much time. By dad said no, it could be finished in 9 days, a week earlier than what my lolo had initially planned. My lolo didn’t believe him and any convincing that my dad tried, my lolo didn’t buy. So my dad decides to risk his week’s salary. I guess my lolo wasn’t “open” about creativity thus didn’t think that my dad could well, creatively finish the job. So anyway, if the job wasn’t finished in time, my lolo could keep his 1 week’s salary. My lolo said “ok, I’ll take you’re bet... but let’s make it 1 month.” He said that he’d take a way my dad’s salary for a month if the project wasn’t finished in exactly 9 days or less. Anything more than 9 days – bye bye salary. My dad readily agreed, and the first thing he thought of was how to speed up the process even more – he got creative. He then thought of giving the men various incentives such as giving free merienda when the men had to stay for over time. He of course told the men about his bet with my lolo. By the way, if my dad won, my lolo said that he’d treat all these men to lunch. In the end, all the ways my dad productively thought of to speed up the process had worked. Three days before due date, my lolo conceded because he saw that my dad could finish it even before the nine days. I think this proves that risk can be a good thing. It can bring out the best in a company or it could bring out the worst – which is why training is needed. Sometimes those who risk the most win the most, but it is important (like Pixar) to know how to stand up after failure. The point is, if you’re not willing to take risks, then you won’t be able to stretch that creativity or encourage it.

Pixar taught me a lot in this article (thank you Ed Catmull). And I think, by following Pixar’s example and allowing yourself to feel inspired by the processes of their work, we can encourage creativity everywhere, even in school or at work.

Other sources (was going to imbed it, but there was always an error): - Ed Catmull, founder of Pixar -- Interview with iinnovate

1 comment:

  1. A neighbor of mine is having a new house built. He did the same thing; providing meals for the workers. At first the work went really fast but now they're "lingering" on the finishing jobs just for the meals. It's a good incentive though, better than cash I suppose. The Pixar article was so interesting that I used a few parts for a seminar that I'm giving later this month.