I’m reading Peter Sims’ Little Bets : how breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries.
It’s a fun book to read, and I’m finding it inspiring – promoting the (reasearch validated) idea that successful creativity and change doesn’t come from top down planning, but from having an open mind, experimentation, play, flexibility, a willingness to fail, and a willingness to capitalise on small wins… there’s a lot to think about and a lot to apply, privately and professionally!
So where does Luxo Jr. come in? Sims uses several running examples throughout his book, including the story of how Pixar went from being a struggling computer hardware company to the giant of computer animation it is today. Pixar didn’t start with a mission to make feature length movies – Luxo Jr. was a short film originally made to promote their hardware products at SIGGRAPH in 1986.
In 1987 Pixar showcased a new film, Red’s Dream at SIGGRAPH, this time to demonstrate not just their hardware, but their RenderMan 3D animation software.
The company’s core hardware and software business was still struggling, and there was a tough battle in 1988 to convince Steve Jobs (who owned the company and was keeping it afloat) to make another film – Tin Toy.
Tin Toy won the Academy Award in 1988 for the Best Animated Short Film. The company began to move its focus from hardware and software to animation (you’ll need to read the book for the full story) and Tin Toy became the basis for Toy Story.
How did I come to be reading a management book on creativity? That’s a lesson in serendipity and chasing ideas! First, last October, I heard Bob Sutton (Stanford Professor of Management Science and Engineering) speaking on ABC Radio National’s Background Briefing on The business of being a boss.
I was intrigued, and bought a copy of Bob’s book The no asshole rule : building a civilized workplace and surviving one that isn’t (another good read for anyone in employment!), then I began to follow Bob on Twitter (@work_matters). From Bob’s tweets and linked blog posts I found out about Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment : the art of changing, hearts, minds and actions (also recommended) and finally, Little Bets. These are just some of the reasons I love Twitter!