In its relatively short history Pixar has achieved remarkable success, garnering 15 Academy Awards and an average international gross of more than $600 million per film. Pixar movies appeal to moviegoers of all ages, with their unconventional plots and emotional depth. Talking cars (Cars), a rat who wants to be a chef (Ratatouille), an elderly man whose house floats to South America on the strength of thousands of balloons (Up), are among the unusual stars of Pixar films.
But when I spoke with Pixar president and cofounder Ed Catmull, he told me that he prefers to tell new recruits about Pixar’s failures. As a studio, Pixar enjoys a wealth of experience, and of course this is tremendously valuable. But Catmull has realized that with experience also comes an attitude that we have all the right answers. He told me that he wants his new recruits to not be intimidated, to present their ideas, and so it’s crucial that they see Pixar, like other companies, is far from perfect.
This is an insight that we all can benefit from. According to research I have done, there are situations where being more experienced—being more expert, or more knowledgeable—leads to lower performance. Experience can be a negative.
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