From left: Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, and John Lasseter ran Pixar together for over two decades.
Creativity supported by constructive criticism? Strange combination, or key to success of project?
Pixar animation combining these two values has been successful in creating animations such as: “Toy Story”, “A bug’s life”, “Increadibles”, or “Inside out”. The key to success was the creation of the “BrainTrust”: team of intelligent, creative enthusiastic people who were able to assess, search for and propose solutions to problems. They role was effective, as giving remarks didn’t made their ego grow, they main goal was working together on a common vision.
Project leaders and directors didn’t see any problem as well with this organization. They knew that in a critical moment they could ask for help, knowing the rule that almost always and especially in complex projects, you achieve a moment when, instead of the whole forest, you see single trees.At some point, as a project leader, You become a problem yourself. You lose what is essential. You simply lose vision.
At that moment you will need an honest point of view to help you get back on track.This is where the Braintrust started to work at Pixar.
Their actions were based on constructive criticism and HONESTY. The braintrust created an atmosphere of true creativity with the goal of launching a good product on the market.
The principle of the Braintrust is simple: put smart and passionate people in a room, give them a problem to solve and encourage them to be honest and open with each other. People who feel obligated to be honest, usually are more open and genuine in their opinion. They can express themselves open, without the feeling that they are going to lose their job or get a bad reputation afterwards. There is no authority and everyone is equal in these meeting. But the main element is of course — honesty.
If you want to put Braintrust idea , you need to follow few points :
- Make sure that the person in charge is ready to receive unfiltered criticism;
- Build your group of braintrust – people who will be more efficient in finding solutions and broadening your horizons;
- Build trust in the team; values on which you build the team must be constant;
- Honesty must be more important than the hierarchy;
- You need to use your braintrust team while it is not too late
It is difficult to tell the truth, but in a creative company it is the only way to bring excellent results. Honesty is not synonymous of cruelty. Full of empathy creative feedback can bring only good results.
Do you prefer to work in a company where more honesty is in the corridors or in the conference room? Decide yourself !
Based on a book : ” Creativity Inc. ” Ed Catmull, Amy Wallance