Peter Sims, whose latest book Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries, has written an insightful post on what Google can learn from Pixar. Some of Sims’ observations are worth noting, specifically as they relate to what we all can learn from Pixar:
Pixar is as close to a constant learning organization as there is, with a proven ability to reinvent and a genuine cultural humility. Google’s founders could learn from Pixar’s founder and president Ed Catmull’s prolonged and determined efforts to counter the natural human reactions to success by aspiring to proactively (and honestly) seek-out and solve new problems constantly, recognizing that he doesn’t have all the answers on his own.
Despite an unbroken string of 11 blockbuster films, Catmull regularly says, “Success hides problems.” It’s an insight Google should acknowledge and act on. Google’s leadership admirably tolerates failure on side-projects (and big projects as well), but what Pixar has that Google does not is a culture where the fear of complacency is a strong motivator, where new problems are identified, discussed, and addressed openly and honestly, all of which requires humility.
No church, no individual is exempt from this wise caution. Success hides problems. The Bible warns of something similar, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes…” (Prov. 21:2). May it be said of us that we are well aware of our tendency towards complacency and seek to learn from everyone and everything.