At the heart of Pixar is the Braintrust, a rolling group of the studio's best creative minds which helps guide every film during development. The group's members change, but it grew out of the core team who worked on Toy Story and now make up Pixar's most acclaimed directors: Lasseter, Andrew Stanton (director of Finding Nemo and Wall•E), Pete Docter (Monsters Inc, Up, Inside Out) and Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3). (Joe Ranft, a founding member who directed Cars, died in 2005.)
"The Braintrust isn't a particular set of people. It's what we call the group that gets together to address a problem," Catmull says. It meets every 12 weeks; meetings start with a screening of the most recent cut of a film. After lunch, the Braintrust provides notes on what works, and what could be improved.
"The key thing is: no mandatory notes," says Lasseter. That foundation -- the fundamental principle of candid, constructive feedback -- goes back to Lasseter's early experiences with Disney "when it was still an executive-driven studio", where animators were given mandatory notes by high-ups.
"My note doesn't carry any more weight than an animator's. No one has individual ownership of an idea, because someone will spark something and you build upon it -- so then, at the end, what you have is this feeling that everybody has shared ownership, and being proud of the whole thing."
Here, no meetings with mobile phones. No one is allowed to bring them into the meeting room. You must look me in the eye. You must know things by heart. You must know all of your business with a 1 to 2 percent error rate. It is also training for your mind.
Yes, if there's a need for a meeting, more of that please.
Hickey Freeman started making men's suits about 100 years ago. Actually, they make excellent suits. Throughout the decades when you walk into Hickey Freeman's Rochester, New York headquarters you see this sign carved in oak in the entryway...
Forrester Research recently issued a terrific report called the Age of the Customer. I love the way the last 100 years are broken down: from manufacturing to distribution to information to the customer.
And while I find minor comedy in the fact that the 'ages' basically decrease by 50% at each stage thereby inferring that this latest age could last a mere 7 years or so I don't want to dwell there. Because even if that's the case, the amount of stuff we'll get done and advance to in that time will probably be fairly amazing.
In thinking about the "Age of the Customer" and brands, consider some research insights from Bain:
- In most categories, strong customer loyalty brands grow twice as fast as the market.
- A 5% increase in customer retention can generate a 75% increase in profitablility.
- It typically costs 6 times more effort to get a new customer than to keep an existing one.
The age of the customer pays out well. So it's helpful that earlier this year IBM issued a report that talked about the rise of Social CRM and I think it's a great way to look at the evolution of social today within organizations.
It's also nice that the pressure is off of marketing to be the sole champion of the possibilities of social within organizations...
Theory is great. We're certainly not shy on theory as an industry. What we're shy on is how--the actual application. Which is why I really liked how McKinsey broke that down into three general tactics that I think most organizations could immediately put to use:
1. Design a great customer engagement strategy and experience based on how people interact with the organization throughout their decision journey.
2. Build an infrastructure that achieves this and consider spreading out marketing teams to other divisions of the company such as service, sales and eCommerce.
3. Assign someone to be in charge of all digital conflict resolution within and across all functions in an organization. PepsiCo did this with the title of Chief Digital Officer.
So we are in the age of the customer. This requires us all to think and act a la Social CRM. And we execute that through design, build and assign.
For as complicated as this is I thought these three documents are extremely guiding. Please click on the links and explore as you like.
The latest issue of Wallpaper is a thick one. The magazine, famous for Design, Fashion, Art and Lifestyle is a treat whenever one picks up an issue. It's not something for lengthy reading necessarily but more for interest browsing and revisiting. (Which is the wonderfulness of a magazine that tablets have difficulty achieving.)
There's only one ad amongst the 310 pages which features a consumer product that can be picked up at Walmart, Target and Best Buy. And it's Dyson. Despite all their growth and mainstream market sales channels, it's great (and smart) to find Dyson here. It kind of makes other larger-ticket home products who say they put design at such a high priority, a bit conspicuous in their absence.
It turns out that the buildings we work in can contribute to a marked difference in how we work and how we perform at our jobs. According to a series of studies by the WSJ, low ceilings and loud air-conditioners created more stressed people both inside and outside the office than recently renovated spaces. That blue tones generate great creativity while red tones lead to accuracy and attention to detail. And that working in high-ceiling rooms are 25% more conducive to seeing connections between unrelated objects than 8-foot ceilings are.
We probably all assumed things like this, but it's nice to have some research to back it up. And while we may not all be able to work in offices like these, or affect the hiring of our company's next architect we can use these insights as a guide to choosing and building war rooms or deciding on the location of the next off-site brainstorm session, I suppose.