Great article in a recent edition of Fast Company, "At Some Point All of Our Movies Suck," by Ed Catmull, President of Pixar.
Catmull starts with the premise that "a hallmark of a great creative culture is that people feel free to share ideas, opinions and criticisms."
I would argue that's the hallmark of any great corporate culture.
Be empowered and encouraged to say what's on your mind without fear of reprisal or retribution. Listen intensely to what your employees have to say to earn their trust and to let them know you care about what they have to contribute.
"Candor is the key to collaborating effectively. Lack of candor leads to dysfunctional environments."
Encourage all employees to share their thoughts, suggestions and concerns. This will make them more empowered and engaged.
"The fear of saying something stupid and looking bad, of offending someone or being intimidated, of retaliating or being retaliated against -- they all have a way of reasserting themselves. And when they do you must address them squarely."
Following are eight of Ed Catmull's secrets for building a creative business which really apply to all businesses:
- Protect creatives from the organization. Empower employees to share their thoughts and ideas.
- Cherish your defining moment and then find a new one. What is your vision? What is your mission? Do your employees know and own them?
- Save the ugly baby from the hungry beast. Protect ideas that are ill-defined until they have time to mature.
- Balance art and commerce. Are you just about making money or do you have a grander vision?
- How the Disney braintrust grew up. Trust is an something you actually have to screw up together and then realize the mistakes actually didn't kill anybody.
- Things are always going to go wrong and you can't see them. Learn from them.
- Real risk means real failures. Learn to live with the risk of failure and have the confidence to know you can bounce back from it.
- Your best tool is a genius or a disaster. Empower your people to do their best and they will.
"Seek out people who are willing to level with you, and when you find them, hold them close."
Are your employees empowered or afraid to speak up?
Empower them to speak up. Your company, and your customers, will benefit.