Saturday, August 1, 2015
The gestation of Toy Story 2 offers a number of lessons that were vital to Pixar's evolution. Remember that the spine of the story - Woody's dilemma, to stay or to go - was the same before and after the Braintrust worked it over. One version didn't work at all, and the other was deeply affecting. Why? Talented storytellers had found a way to make viewers care, and the evolution of this story line made it abundantly clear to me: If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.
The takeaway here is worth repeating: Getting the team right is the necessary precursor to getting the ideas right. It is easy to say you want talented people, and you do, but the way those people interact with one another is the real key. Even the smartest people can form an ineffective team if they are mismatched. That means it is better to focus on how the team is performing, not on the talents of the individuals within it. A good team is make up of people who complement each other. There is an important principle here that may seem obvious, yet - in my experience - is not obvious at all. Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the idea right.
-Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming The Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way Of True Inspiration