In continuing with my reading of choice, Ed reflects on the time in 2006 when he and Steve Jobs had to explain to their employees that they were selling Pixar to Disney. Like most would, Ed tried to smooth things over and reassure employees that everything would be fine. He expressed that “things would not change” and that there should be no worries. He soon realized this was not the right approach. For the next year, whenever anything new was on the horizon employees would storm his office. They were quick to remind him of his own words- “things would not change”. This occurrence was so frequent that Ed had to call a follow up meeting. He provided clarity and explain that there WOULD be changes due to the merger but, change was good. This touches on a topic that many companies face, change.
Change is inevitable. What are people afraid of when it comes to change? It could be the discomfort and confusion that may arise. It could be the stress of the additional work required (Catmull 2014 ). As entrepreneurs and leaders, there are some changes that cannot be controlled. For the situations that can be controlled, it should always be for the improvement of the company. These improvements should not only positively impact the company, but the overall customer service as well. Whatever the case, leaders should try their best to be intentional in the process. Change should be introduced and implemented in a way that minimizes stress of employees and does not impede on their ability to efficiently do their jobs.
Creative culture is something that Ed frequently discusses. An important part of this culture is being self-aware of decisions being made and the intentions behind them. Ed states in the reading, “If you don’t try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead” (Catmull 2014). This statement is one that Ed views as a core managing belief. He further goes on to raise the following questions: How much are we able to see? And how much is obscured from view (Catmull 2014)? At times Ed would use these questions to help put things into perspective. He came to learn that factors such as: knowledge, or lack thereof, as well as ones position (within the levels of hierarchy) can distort one’s perception. This is why he was a strong advocate for having a creative culture. In this creative culture, employees are trained to be observant and willing to understand the interconnections of duties within the company. This is helpful in the attempt to create a company that is close knit and more strongly aligned in efforts to achieve goals.
Catmull, E., & Wallace, A. (2014). Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration: Random House.
Another intriguing post. The anecdote brought to light a very important aspect of leadership: never make promises you can’t keep. I think this is something that many of us are guilty of. Not so much out of an intentional desire to mislead, but more so the product of wishful thinking and wanting to see our teams happy. As for change itself, I sincerely doubt any business is capable of finding continued success if they insist on remaining stagnant. Rather than fear change, we must actively look for ways to make the most out of it.
I loved this post. Good leadership should always communicate truthfully regardless of the the response. I have always respected leaders who have told me things that I did not necessarily want to hear versus trying to smooth it over. Change can be difficult but is bound to happen. It is better to be upfront and honest about it so that expectations can be aligned. I look forward to reading more of your post.
Change; to most it is a very intimidating word. I agree with what Travis spoke about in his comment. Was the intention to mislead, no I don’t think so; but instead to promise a better tomorrow. I think that is what we as leaders always want, a better day tomorrow for those we are leading. While leaders may often get away with such promises, too frequent it comes back to bite them. This was an interesting read because it made me analyze some of the unintentional promises that I have made to those I supervise and how they may play out in the long run.
Thanks for the read!
Shay, another great post per usual. 🙂
Change change change, the thing we all know we need at times and yet the thing that most of us dread most. It is amazing to me the difficulty most species have difficulty adapting to change. Animals that have to withstand drastic temperature changes, or changes in food can die…and I know during big periods of change in my life I felt like I might just die.
One thing I really appreciated about Ed was the fact that he realized he needed to have a follow up meeting, and actually TAKE BACK something that he said and clarified what he meant by “things wouldn’t change.” As managers, and business owners it is on our best interest to remember that our employees are just like us…human, and prone to all the complexities and complications that humans experience. We must be cognizant of how our business changes can have an emotional or practical effect on our employees. I think that just having the willingness to discuss with employees the changes that are happening, why they are happening, why it is important that we (try to) embrace the change, why their buy in matters, and discussing the difficulties that may come as we adjust as a team to different processes or products…is the key to helping ourselves and our employees adjust a little bit easier to change.
I really enjoyed your interpretation of Ed’s view of creative culture. So often I have heard managers and directors try to push a concept of creative culture from the top down, without ever being able to effectively describe their actual visions. This inevitably leads to employees not buying what management is selling, and things quickly revert back to the same normal as before. I believe that the key success factor here is intentionality. Before the first revolutionary slogan is mentioned, management needs to take the time to think through the impacts of each decision in the tree. Each position has a unique view of the inter-workings of their own areas, and how they connect with the larger structure. Taking the time to reflect on how each piece of the puzzle is seen by others goes a long way towards making sure that the perception from everyone is what was intended. These things should not be left up to interpretation, not without ensuring that everyone has the same resources at their disposal to see the larger picture.
Change is always going to happen but I can understand where Ed is coming from. When the company I worked for was sold we heard the same thing “Nothing is going to change”. I think that is a very disingenuous statement and employees know it. Employees can be the real source of a company’s success and when you say have those kinds of remarks it makes them trust management less. It is good that Ed realizes that his position obscures his vision of what the business is at lower levels. I think this is a great post that talks about how to be an effective leader.
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