How Pixar Enchants Us

How does Pixar keep turning out such great movies?

Arguably no film studio in the world expends so much energy actively trying to fail. … The difference between this legendary animation studio and mere mortals, however, is that Pixar knows that fact, embraces it — and then, by bravely going back to the drawing board, proceeds to spin its closeted failures into open mastery and pioneering achievement and Oscar gold. As Mark Andrews, who shared an Academy Award for directing Pixar’s “Brave,” once told me: “Fail as fast as you can and fail often — so you figure out what you need to do to get it right.”

That’s great advice for any organization, whether it’s a business or a non-profit like a church. Too often, we go by the wrong motto: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s fine, but so often, there’s no way to know if it’s broken. So instead, we should be stressing things: probing for weaknesses, trying to find out where the invisible fault lines are, and then fixing them.

At Pixar, it’s not just a business-school platitude. They actually do it:

Lore surrounds all the months and years of cutting-room footage from Pixar films — whether it was re-navigating “Finding Nemo” or the overhaul and rescue of “Ratatouille.”


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