Book Read: The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company

Just finished “The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company” in record time (.. for me). Awesome book. I’ve been a fan of Pixar since I first saw Toy Story at a special presentation (.. it had the original voice actors, not the dubbed, Norwegian version) here in Norway in 1996. I still consider Toy Story 2 as one of the best movies ever made.

The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company gives an unique view of the history of Pixar. As I started following Pixar more closely after that winter day of 1996, I had a simple overview of the situation up until now. What really impressed me was everything that happened up until the release of Toy Story, and as usual, all the random events that formed the great company known as Pixar today. If you have an interest in animated movies, business issues, great histories and great people, I’d really recommend reading this book. It’s awesome.

The mere fact that I read through it in just a few days when I usually spend a couple of weeks on a book is a good testament to that. I’m an even bigger fan of John Lassetter now.

New book: Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping

A View Behind the Scenes of the Creativity at Pixar

As I’ve been having a cold the last two days with everything that involves of fevers and chills, I’ve at least had the time to a bit of reading. To be honest I’ve not been able to much else, so I finally got around to reading an article at Harvard Business Online about Pixar, titled «How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity».

One of the most interesting quotes which I’ve been hearing a lot lately and that I agree with 100% is the following:

If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up; if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something that works.

To see how this shaped the development of Toy Story 2, one of the best animated movies of all time, read the article.

I’ve also seen several movies from the Pixar offices on the behind the scenes features of several of their DVDs (in particular in the Toy Story 1 & 2 Box Set which features a complete DVD with just extra material), but I never understood the true meaning of why they had built it like that. I might just have missed it in the material, and it still looks like an awesome place to work. Anyways, the article has a nice quote about the effect of the buildings structure:

Our building, which is Steve Jobs’s brainchild, is another way we try to get people from different departments to interact. Most buildings are designed for some functional purpose, but ours is structured to maximize inadvertent encounters. At its center is a large atrium, which contains the cafeteria, meeting rooms, bathrooms, and mailboxes. As a result, everyone has strong reasons to go there repeatedly during the course of the workday. It’s hard to describe just how valuable the resulting chance encounters are.

While the visions of my company in the future may not have to integrate people from so many different arts, this still provides a very interesting view of the dynamic between groups and people.

Well worth a read.