Forces for innovation

By William Seidman In an interesting interview with the McKinsey Quarterly, Brad Bird, the two-time Oscar-winning director of Pixar, shared how he created such groundbreaking movies as “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille.” In the process, he revealed how executives in all industries can make their organizations more innovative. According to Bird, a very strong emphasis on a greater purpose—and a willingness to listen to anyone about a better way to achieve that purpose—is key to pushing the boundaries of creativity in a collaborative way. Unlike his predecessor, Bird gathered all of his animators together and reviewed their work at once. “Everyone will get humiliated and encouraged together,” he explained. “If there is a solution, I want everyone to hear the solution, so everyone adds it to their tool kit. I’m going to take my shot at what I think will improve a scene, but if you see something different, go ahead and disagree. I don’t know all the answers.” By admitting that he didn’t know all the answers, Bird illustrated the power of the “positive deviant.” Positive deviants are very purpose-driven people who are open to any ideas that help achieve the goal at hand. Our article on the role of positive deviance in innovation  shows how any organization can identify its positive deviants, explore their unique capabilities, and spread those capabilities throughout the organization. When you use your positive deviants as the foundation for defining a collective purpose, the energy and innovation released is transformative.  ]]>

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