A brain trust

The ON Residency Team 2020-2021

You can get so far on your own


I could live forever on my own, here in the garden, writing this blog. That would be nice. But, it would be against everything I’ve always done that I’m so proud of. I am a team person. Since 2000, I’ve worked in teams with some marvelous people; I’ve been fortunate. I need people to think with, discuss and try out fresh new ideas, and share successes and failures. 

The joy of teamwork


The great thing about a team is it works for a common goal. Everybody is tuned in to the intent of the creative project at hand. We are experiencing the process together, the forward leaps, and the inevitable setbacks: the synergy, multitude of viewpoints, joining forces, spirits, humor, and the collective experience. There’s nothing like it. 

The business of  creativity


In my research lately, I’ve been reading Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace‘s book Creativity Inc.  – Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the way of True Inspiration. This is a book I highly recommend to any CEO seeking inspiration for innovation and creative leadership. 

Root out mediocrity and push towards excellence 


One of the most inspiring ideas in the book is the Braintrust, one of Pixar’s key mechanisms, “which we rely upon to push us toward excellence and to root out mediocrity… Its premise is simple: Put smart, passionate people in a room together, charge them with identifying and solving problems, and encourage them to be candid with one another.” 

What kind of people could be doing this together that are not part of the same team? Can people from different walks of life/creative endeavors be there for each other, with the utmost candor, rooting for each other’s goals? Looking at problems together, suggesting innovative and creative solutions, sharing experiences, and being there for each other on an ongoing basis?

Can this work outside of Pixar, for people from a variety of teams?


I am not sure, but I’m curious. It would have to be a small closed group of people committed to being a team for each other and keeping what’s discussed within the group’s circle. These people need to be creative, courageous, and generous… Extraordinary people who will share the interest of being part of such a unique group. There could be an overall goal defined for the group as such. Would that work? What do you think?

“The braintrust is one of the most important traditions at Pixar. It’s not full-proof…but when we get it right, the results are phenomenal. the Braintrust sets the tone for everything we do.”

Ed says this about the Braintrust: “Without the critical ingredient that is candor, there can be no trust. And without trust, creative collaboration is not possible.”. 

The goal of any Braintrust, therefore, is creative collaboration. Can a selected group of people be as committed to each other’s creative success and dreams, even if they work in different spaces and organizations? Are we capable of going beyond our ego and entering a space where we are all there for each other? 

This is an experiment tingling at my fingertips, I wonder if and when I will venture to implement it.

In the meantime, 

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