We continue to share our opinions on books from our office library. Today we have Ed Catmell and his Genius Corporation. For feedback turned to CEO “AVA digital” Nikita.
“Ed Catmell is one of the founders of the very Pixar studio, from whose animated films we have been delighted for two decades. Who better than him to write a book about the difficulties of becoming a company, creative crises, disagreements, and most importantly: how to manage these geniuses?
The answer to the question is no way. Because how to “manage” in the literal sense of the word will not work. You cannot instruct the designer: “Make me such a cool project for tomorrow, think of everyone’s jaw dropping, sit down and proceed.” With all due respect to the workers of factories and other industrial enterprises, in the creative spheres the methods of mechanized and automated production do not take root at all.
In the book I found a lot of confirmations of the fidelity of the moments that the team and I have integrated into the workflow for a long time. I will list the key ones.
No strict technical specifications from customers. Place the green button in the left corner, the red pulsating tube in the middle of the page, and here on the floor of the screen write — “SELLING THE BEST WINDOWS IN SPB WITH DELIVERY” — all this is not for us. If a client has written a technical task the size of a volume of Dostoevsky, requires strict adherence to the specifications, controls any deviations, there can be no talk of creativity. This does not mean that we work as we please. We listen to the customer when our opinions differ, defend our point of view. Everything is within the bounds of decency, but we will never begin to develop sites for dictation.
Minimum control. The only condition that I ask you to strictly observe is deadlines. We are discussing with the designer responsible for the project the future site. I give out information received from the customer, give basic introductory ones, for example: the customer does not accept blue, wants a slider with a video sequence, a form without complications, etc. Together we understand how much time this work can take, name the date of the design presentation and that’s all. No more control. At first it was difficult for me, as the manager and responsible for the project to the customer. We have a free schedule, and it annoyed me that my designers rarely appear in the office. Silly suspicions crept in, it seemed the guys were not dedicating themselves to work properly. Simply put, the stereotype worked: I see in the office, that means they work, I don’t see — they don’t work. The issue was resolved simply. We gathered with the designers in the office, I expressed my concerns. I was satisfied with the answer — design is a creative process. We can sit locked in an apartment for days, do absolutely nothing with “hands”, but it will also be work. In this case, the office, the schedule and the boss will be an annoying factor, such as overseers who silently remind you of the need to press the buttons and work. Then I was asked the question: “Do you like our projects? Are you satisfied with the result? ” I gave a positive answer and doubts were dispelled. Who cares who, where and how it works? The main result, it completely suits me, which means everything is wonderful.
Always be frank with your employees. Like any other company, we have crises, projects are on fire, customer marketers are shouting, the landlord is selling an office and you need to urgently move out. With my team I share everything, difficult and joyful situations. Any employee should always be aware of all matters. So he understands his involvement in the development of the company. If I ask you to speed up the development of the project, I will definitely explain the reasons. Then the person understands that it was not me who wanted a brand new iPhone and I urgently needed money, and the customer decided to get what he wanted as soon as he started the season earlier. This structure of work is described wonderfully in the book on the example of the Toyota plant, in which each employee, no matter the cleaner or senior engineer, can stop the conveyor of huge production if he suspects something is amiss. A successful company is a single organism, and each of the employees should be involved in the development process of the entire company.
I have listed the basic principles of our creative team. There are many more. I am very glad that many found confirmation in this book. I recommend reading it not only to managers and senior managers, but to everyone who works in a creative team. The book will be useful for managers in planning and organizing work in such a way as to maximize the potential of their employees. For employees — for a better understanding of the fact that a company is a huge organism that is always trying to attack external irritants from different angles, therefore, a balance between creativity and a reasonable restriction is necessary.
Technically, the book is very easy to read. There are many living examples from the life of Pixar. Locally read as a work of art. But there is enough water, all business literature sins with this. I recommend!»