Tuesday, December 21, 2021



Ed Catmull, the co-founder and the former President at Pixar, in his book "Creativity, Inc." does a wonderful job of explaining the creative process behind the magic that Pixar movies have managed to create.

He says "Candor is the key to collaborating effectively. Lack of candor leads to dysfunctional environments." Candor, simply put, is the quality of being open and honest.

One of the key mechanisms with which Pixar injects excellence into it's movie making process is "The Braintrust". The Braintrust is a group of trusted colleagues that gets together periodically to review the progress of a Pixar film that is in development. Its premise is simple: Put smart, passionate people in a room together, charge them with identifying and solving problems, and encourage them to be candid. So Candor is the foundation on which the Braintrust works.

While reading, i developed the appreciation for the principles on which the Braintrust worked but what i appreciated more was the fact that Pixar's culture encouraged the 'In-Progress', 'raw' work to be subject to intense review. As Ed says in the book- "Pixar films are not good at first, and our job is to make them so–to go, as I say, “from suck to not-suck.”

I believe every creative work (including the act of writing code) goes on from being "not-so-good" to "good-enough" to "near-perfect". One of my observations when leading Innovation teams was that the teams that were open to subject their work for review early on in the cycle, eventually delivered something that was more meaningful, that satisfied the need of stakeholders and met what customers wanted. On the contrary, the teams that delayed showing their work, got the feedback late and had to struggle at later stages.

Julie Zhuo is this insightful twitter thread https://bit.ly/3tA8i4W tells about virtues of showing the work early, and often. Have included some of the reasons shared in this thread via my sketchnote.

Of course, sharing the work early and often doesn't work in certain situations which demands perfection e.g. presentation to execs, demos to customers etc. but most knowledge work outputs stand to gain if shared early in the development cycle, helps in shortening the feedback loops, instill validation early-on and install quality.

What's your take on this ? What , according to you, are some of the impediments to sharing your work early on ?
Do share your thoughts in the comments.

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