The Economist offers a lengthy video interview with Edwin Catmull, president of groundbreaking animation studio Pixar. It’s a treasure trove of advice on doing creative work, managing teams and getting past roadblocks, and key sections have been helpfully transcribed.
Scott Berkun does the good work of typing out Catmull’s advice and answers on a variety of topics. Berkun has a lot to offer managers of any stripe, as he’s overseen his share of big projects with a lot of creative minds plugging on them and admits that, in many cases, his job is to know that he doesn’t know what’s going on. One excerpt, on how creative management can destroy itself, gives a peek into how he thinks:
The notion that you’re trying to control the process and prevent error screws things up. We all know the saying it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And everyone knows that, but I Think there is a corollary: if everyone is trying to prevent error, it screws things up. It’s better to fix problems than to prevent them. And the natural tendency for managers is to try and prevent error and over plan things.
The whole post, and the video, seems worth pondering over a lunch break.