The Coach's Corner

Pixar’s Braintrust

February 22nd, 2016 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc., he describes the “Braintrust,” which he says is one of the most important traditions at Pixar. For those of you who may not know, Pixar made the first computer-animated movie, “Toy Story”— and it took Catmull, John Lasseter and Steve Jobs 20 years to accomplish that task (I’ll save that story for another blog).

Catmull describes Pixar’s Braintrust as follows:

  1. It was a group of executives who met every few months to assess movies.
  2. The group would provide candid feedback on developing movies. According to Catmull, “Candor is forthrightness or frankness — not so different from honesty, really. And yet, in common usage, the word communicates not just truth-telling, but a lack of reserve.”
  3. Members of the group were funny, focused, smart and relentlessly candid with each other.
  4. Catmull says the group went against common boardroom principles. “Societal conditioning discourages telling the truth to those perceived to be in higher positions,” he says.
  5. I know nothing about making movies, but Catmull has this to say about the profession: “Candor could not be more crucial to our creative process. Why? Because early on, all of our movies suck.”

I’ve talked about this before (Do you have a way to get the truth?).

Can you imagine how crushed a director/producer would be if, after all their time and effort, they discovered their creation completely missed the mark?

Many industrial and service businesses have experienced the same result, and it is called FAILURE.

Do you have a Braintrust?

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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