Imitate Pixar to Improve Your Judgment at Work

Pixar is the most successful film company in Hollywood. In its now-considerable history, the company has never released a flop. Is that because we'll go see anything drawn on a computer? Nope -- other companies have floundered in this same space.

If it is possible to boil Pixar's recipe for sound decision making down to a pithy five points, that would be something you'd want to apply to your own business decisions, right?


You're in luck. The Harvard Business Review cataloged 5 ways that Pixar makes better decisions, and for the most part, they are strategies that should work equally well no matter what your industry.

Managers give directors a lot of autonomy -- managers like to be in control (that's an axiom no matter where you work) but at Pixar, they cede much of that power to the creative contributors who need to do the real work.

Directors take feedback from their peers. Movies are routinely viewed, critiqued, and revised in cooperation with the entire production crew.

Movies always get a postmortem. During the postmortems, the team involved in the film is asked to come up with five things they'd do again and five things they wouldn't do again. Postmortems not only surface the information but also help to prevent the problems from festering among team members.

Restarts are on the table. If a movie is not working, Pixar is willing to completely restart the project, if necessary, rather than continuing to "course correct" a failing project.

Education keeps people energized and informed. Pixar has an extensive education program at Pixar University, with more than 110 different courses.

Do you operate more -- or less -- like Pixar? I'd love to hear if my favorite film company is a model for the way you work or something you can aspire to.