Pixar is one of the most creative companies in the world. They consistently push the boundaries of technology, release hit movies, and tell touching stories. I have loved Pixar movies since I first saw Toy Story and I continue to love both their movies and their approach to being a creative organization. In the Church we may not be creating movies, but a significant portion of our work is about telling the story of Christ and life change within our midst and finding creative ways to do so. Because of this I think we can learn a lot from Pixar's approach to fostering creativity.
Empower the creatives.
If there are people that are trying to be creative within your church organization, whether they are trying to be creative in their planning of a worship service, their student ministry, or the management of a staff, it is important that they feel empowered. In most studios, specialized deparments generate movie ideas while another department works on making those ideas into a film. At Pixar the job of the development department is not developng the movie, but finding people who will work well together, keeping their team healthy, and helping them solve problems.
Perhaps the best way to help our creative teams is not finding more inspiration, but helping them to work well together. Empowering the creatives is less about teaching them to be more creative and more about helping them as a creative team. The student ministry team is empowered not when they realize they have innovative ideas, but when they can work well together.
"If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they'll screw it up. But if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they'll make it work." - Harvard Business Review on Pixar
Show Unfinished Work
At Pixar there is a group of people consisting of eight directors called the brain trust. The idea is that the group can get together and show a work in progress and follow up with a discussion about making the movie better. Because of the amount of trust in this group of people, they refine creative ideas without an ego preventing critical feedback and without hesitancy from the other members to not pull any punches.
When is the last time you were able to bring a raw, unfinished idea to your team and work it out? Having a peer culture allows for good ideas to be developed into great ideas. It allows everybody on the team to offer the insight and challenges. What would it look like for you to present your sermon series idea before a "brain trust" of people to help you work it out? What if you were able to write music and present it to a "brain trust" within your church? What if you could take your student ministry retreat idea and work through it with your team and knew that doing it together would make it significantly better?