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Innovation Lessons from Pixar: An Interview with Oscar-winning Director Brad Bird

Abstract: Brad Bird, Pixar’s two-time Oscar-winning director hands-on approach to encouraging creativity among animators provides many lessons for any executive hoping to nurture innovation in teams and organizations. Bird joined Pixar in 2000 and won Academy Awards (best animated feature) for two groundbreaking movies, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Brad Bird was attracted to Pixar because the one thing that was unbelievably different about the company was that the heads of Pixar were worried about directors becoming complacent with their success.

Brad Bird’s first Project, The Incredibles was all about shaking things up and involved everything that computer-generated animation had trouble doing. With artists who were known for doing things differently than told, Brad Bird changed the way a number of things were done at Pixar. This was possible because the heads of Pixar allowed Brad Bird and his team to try crazy ideas. As a result, Brad Bird and his team made the movie that had three times the number of sets for less money per minute than was spent on the previous film - Finding Nemo.

This article concludes that the first step in achieving the impossible is to believe that the impossible can be achieved.

Published: McKinsey Quarterly, April 2008

Authors: Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton, and Allen P. Webb

Link: Innovation Lessons from Pixar

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