“There is nothing quite like ignorance combined with a driving need to succeed to force rapid learning” (Catmull 2014). In the chapter “A Defining Goal” Ed Catmull continues to discuss the challenges he encountered while developing Pixar. As many have come to learn, sometimes lessons are learned the hard way. This “hard way” often includes failures. By this point in the book, Ed has successfully secured the financial backing of tech mobile Steve Jobs. Both Ed and Steve each had their own strengths, collaboratively this provided the makings for a solid partnership and business overall. In light of this secured partnership, Ed became overloaded by the abundance of responsibilities that came with being a President. The duties included managing inventory, quality control, creating a profit loss statement, among other tasks that was too much for him to bear alone. As a result, he made it his priority, as President, to hire good people to assist with the daunting responsibilities. Intentional hiring and continuing to grow in his position as President, Ed sought after advice from friends and colleagues. He was moved to ultimately asked for advice on how much to sell his product (at the time this was Pixar image computer). Most advised that he price the product on the high side. Unfortunately, sales weren’t great, and the company ultimately had a bad first impression among consumers. Ed, in turn, learned a valuable lesson: advice on pricing wasn’t necessarily wrong, he simply did not ask the right people the right questions. There were more pressing issues that should have been addressed. Rather than be concerned with dynamics of pricing, focus should have been on how to meet the expectations of customers and improve software so customers buying it could put it to better use (Catmull 2014).
In the next chapter Ed reminisces on another great teaching moment that resulted from working on Toy Story. This difficult time led to the establishment of the company’s core principles “Strong is king” and “trust the process”. The company declared they wouldn’t let the nature of the business or anything else taint the beauty of the story. The company made it their mission to have the right team in place to ensure they were always at their best. Upon cultivating the “right team” the company noticed that the core principle “trust the process” needed revision. This principle led to people getting lazy in their work ethic because they were under the assumption that things would work themselves out. Thus, the mantra changed to “trust the people” as they are to take ownership and be responsible for their work within the framework of “the process” (Catmull 2014). Ed learned the importance of embracing introspection and will expound upon this process in the upcoming chapters.
Catmull, E., & Wallace, A. (2014). Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration: Random House.
First off, your blog has a great look and is quite organized and easy to navigate. Congratulations! Secondly, I enjoyed your Week 3 Post on Creativity, Inc. It’s fascinating that someone as brilliant as Ed Catmull goes through some of the same learning processes that are common for all of us. For instance, Ed’s realization that he’s not necessarily equipped to handle all of the responsibilities that come with being President of Pixar is a moment that each of us can relate to. And the talents that got us to whatever position we currently hold aren’t necessarily the same ones that will lead to success in the role. We have to surround ourselves with other talented people that are strong in the areas where we are weak, thereby leveraging our abilities and those of our team.
I also love your point that Ed’s decision to ask for advice around pricing wasn’t a mistake, but instead “he simply didn’t ask the right people the right questions.” Yes! Asking the right questions can be hard but even that is only half the battle. If we want advice that will actually lead to better results it’s the combination of asking the right people who have the knowledge AND our best interests at heart those questions. Those people can be hard to find and once we do it is critical to make them a true part of your endeavor. Only then can we hope for them to stick around.
Good evening! You can teach people the process, but you cannot teach people to care about their job! This statement has been proven to be true over and over again. This is why finding the right people for the right job is so important. Finding out someone is not right for the job can cost a company a lot of money. Time invested in an employee that does not work out, in addition to lost production, and the time finding a new employee all add up to a tremendous amount of lost potential revenue. On the other hand, management does need to invest in their employees in order for them to gain the tools for the role they are performing. In addition, employee appreciation can go a long way. Great Post!
I really liked where you said “Ed, in turn, learned a valuable lesson: advice on pricing wasn’t necessarily wrong, he simply did not ask the right people the right questions.”
I think this is something we can take away in life…sometimes its not that you’ve been given bad advice but that you were listening to the wrong people. This resonates with me because I think it’s easy to get drowned in other people’s opinions about your dreams, or how you “should be” or how your life “should operate.”
Great post Shay!
Your first sentence regarding ignorance and the drive to succeed is interesting. I have always noticed that those who succeed are not always what I would call the smartest. In fact, some of my friends and acquaintances who succeeded I thought of as kinda dumb. I found it to be a admiring correlation as many of the “smart” people failed in comparison. The trait that caused the former to succeed was drive.
I agree that you must ask the right questions of the right people to find success. I love the phrase “trust the process.” There have been many times when I felt like a venture I was embarking upon would fail but as I made adjustments I realized how successful the venture could be. It is very easy to give up when things look grim. Perseverance is essential to success
This post hit home to me in a lot of ways, especially the part where you spoke about hiring people that could be trusted to get the job done. In a leadership position, I think it is very important to surround yourself with those people to not only succeed, but also to keep you on track. I know, for me, I struggle with trusting others to complete tasks at the highest of standards. Any tips on how to be a better leader in that regard?
I am glad to see that you mention that Pixar’s main business was at first selling its graphics computer. Isn’t that crazy how much businesses can change. I think my book mentioned that their computer was originally priced at $100,000.
I think its good that you mention that Pixar changed their motto. A company should stay flexible and always evaluate their company culture and policy and make changes if needed. A company can not prosper if it gets stuck in a rut.
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