Criticism at Pixar

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Pixar Founder, Ed Catmull, shares his secret to improving creative works and fueling the most prolific hit-maker of our times: The Braintrust.

You may be thinking, How is the Braintrust different from any other feedback mechanism? There are two key differences, as I see it. The first is that the Braintrust is made up of people with a deep understanding of storytelling, who usually have been through the process themselves. While the directors welcome critiques from many sources, they particularly prize feedback from fellow storytellers. The second difference is that the Braintrust has no authority. The director does not have to follow any of the specific suggestions. After a Braintrust meeting, it is up to him or her to figure out how to address the feedback. Giving the Braintrust no power to mandate solutions affects the dynamics of the group in ways I believe are essential.

Rarely in our organizations are we exposed to a peer group whose job it is to help us make our work better, without power or authority to force their opinions upon us.

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