Hollywood animation company Pixar, the maker of blockbuster movies including the “Toy Story” series and “Finding Nemo,” is a good example of how innovation and lean practices can enhance outcomes. Pixar has combined lean and innovation to good effect, according to Kartik Hosanagar, Wharton professor of operations and information management. Working within the movie industry “where lack of predictability is the norm,” Pixar has created a set of processes that emphasizes team-based collaboration and continuous feedback loops to help overcome creative blocks and track deliverables, but without the stress that could go with a regime of control.
Part of what helps Pixar succeed is a model of working in which the individual is as valuable to the team as the team is to the individual. To help structure fruitful interactions, Pixar has instituted a system of daily meetings where team members talk about what they have or have not accomplished each day and others provide feedback. The point is not to track people. "In a creative world you often hit roadblocks, and team-based collaboration is critical," he explains. "People might discuss work that is clearly in an incomplete stage; they don't have to feel embarrassed." The process involves cross-company teams, too, where one team working on a project might get feedback from another team working on a totally different project.