I started reading this book after lots of recommendations on Amazon and on Twitter. And I was definitely not disappointed. I must state upfront that I hardly watch movies, let alone animation movies – and the whole book revolves around how Ed Catmull and John Lasseter and their team created blockbuster movies such as the Toy Story, Monster Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, WALL E etc ; the problems they encountered along the way and how they went about resolving them in a creative manner.
I found it a great read – and could relate to most of Ed’s stories and anecdotes to the Agile world – be it fail fast, be open to ideas from anyone in the organization, transparency in the way we work, managing change, importance of trust, collective responsibility, fast feedback, continuous improvement among others. Highly recommended, especially for those practicing Agile.
Here are the top 20 of his ideas taken from the book.
- Give a good idea to a mediocre team and they will screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a great team, they will either fix it or come up with something better. If you get the team right, chances are you will get the ideas right.
- Always try to hire people who are smarter than you. Always take a chance on better, even if it seems a potential threat.
- If there are people in your organization who feel they are not free to suggest ideas, you lose. Do not discount ideas from unexpected sources.
- There are many valid reasons why people aren’t candid with one another in a work environment. Your job is to search for those reasons and then address them. Similarly, if someone disagrees with you, it is important to understand the reasoning behind their conclusions.
- There is nothing quite as effective, when it comes to shutting down alternative viewpoints, as being convinced you are right.
- If there is more truth in the hallways than in meetings, you have a problem.
- Many managers feel that if they are not notified about problems before others are if they are surprised in a meeting, then it is a sign of disrespect. Get over it.
- Careful “messaging” to downplay problems makes you appear to be lying, deluded, ignorant, or uncaring. Sharing problems is an act of inclusion that makes employees feel invested in the larger enterprise.
- Do not fall for the illusion that by preventing errors, you won’t have errors to fix. The truth is, the cost of preventing errors if often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
- Change and uncertainty are part of life. Our job is not to resist them but to build the capacity to recover when expected events occur. If you don’t always try to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
- It is not the manager’s role to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.
- Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.
- Trust doesn’t mean that you trust someone won’t screw up – it means you trust them even when they do screw up.
- The people ultimately responsible for implementing a plan must be empowered to make decisions when things go wrong, even before getting approval. Finding and fixing problems is everyone’s job. Any one should be able to stop the production line.
- The desire for everything to run smoothly is a false goal – it leads to measuring people by the mistakes they make rather than by their ability to solve problems.
- Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often.
- Imposing limits can encourage a creative response. Excellent work can emerge from uncomfortable or seemingly untenable circumstances.
- An organization as a whole is more conservative and resistant to change than the individuals who comprise it. Do not assume that general agreement will lead to change – it take substantial energy to move a group, even when all are aboard
- Excellence, quality and good should be earned words – attributed by others to us, not proclaimed by us about ourselves.
- Don’t confuse the process with the goal. Working on our processes to make them better, easier and more efficient is an indispensable activity and something we should continually work on – but it is not the goal. Making the product great is a goal.