Pixar's Braintrust Provides Constructive Criticism to Creatives
We are true believers in the power of bracing, candid feedback and the iterative process—reworking, reworking, and reworking again... – Ed Catmull, Pixar President
Imagine a workplace where your colleagues are open—receptive, even—to constructive criticism, yet extremely invested in your and other’s successes. At Pixar, they've managed to cultivate this environment thanks to their Braintrust: a group of smart, dedicated people who, with unapologetic candor, identify and solve problems in storytelling.
Members of the braintrust have passion and expertise; they're storytellers who have already been through the creative process, making them a trusted source of feedback. But their feedback doesn't come in the form of a solution or commands. Instead, their role is to identify any underlying issues, allowing the Project Lead to decide what to do with the criticism.
The Braintrust is only viable because Pixar believes in the value of candor. In fact, when in a Braintrust meeting, the leader's role is primarily to make sure that everyone feels comfortable providing honest critique. As Pixar's long string of success demonstrates, though, this rigorous criticism pays off.
Takeaway: Establishing a panel of trusted advisors and promoting a safe environment to provide feedback can be a great resource when your team is struggling with a problem and needs a fresh perspective.
Image courtesy of Pixar