Is an IT Manager Really an Artist?


Here’s an interesting question that I like to whip out each so typically and run by means of my mind: is IT a science or an art? For that matter, are we all engineers or are we truly artists? If you consider about it, our jobs consist of taking standard elements (colors) combining them (painting) and generating networks, servers, and applications (works of art). Is one amongst us the subsequent IT Michelangelo?

Ed Catmull is a single of the founders of Pixar and he is at present the president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios (they merged just awhile ago). He wrote an report for the Harvard Business Overview in which he discussed how Pixar offers with the mix of art and technologies that they use to create their films. His thoughts hold some interesting points for us IT Leaders.

1 of the initial points that Catamull tends to make is that Disney and Pixar are not just about great artists (Walt Disney getting 1 of them). Rather, what tends to make them stand out is that they have learned to take technology and bend it in such a way as to help their artists do more. Confident appears like what an IT department is supposed to be undertaking!

At Pixar they have a saying “Technologies inspires art, and art challenges the technologies”. No matter what marketplace your business operates in, this saying need to apply to you also.

At Pixar they have developed numerous principles that they use to capture this saying and implement it in how they do function. Simply because each team in the department is not created equal, Pixar has implemented the following principles to guide their teams:

Communication Is Important And Unrestricted: In order to guarantee that silos of info don’t create, they have separated the decision producing hierarchy from the communications hierarchy. There wants to be no such point as going by way of “proper channels” to get info. This signifies that Leaders have to get comfy with the truth that they won’t know everything and other individuals may know a lot more than they do.
New Ideas Must Be Protected: Absolutely nothing can kill innovation like an atmosphere in which new ideas are laughed at or shot down. Everybody wants to get two-sided feedback: inform them what you liked and inform them what you did not like.
Good Tips Commence In School: Oh the arrogance of these of us who have been out of school for numerous years. We overlook exactly where the next generation of workers will come from and exactly where new ideas usually spring from. We need to encourage our workers to publish their results, challenges, and options. Yes, you may possibly finish up giving away some competitive benefit but you will get so much a lot more back in reader feedback and attracting new talent that it will all be worth it.

Catmull took the time to point out a handful of further things that Pixar has done to maintain their workers communicating with every single other:

The Pixar creating has been developed with the cafeteria, mailboxes, meeting rooms, and bathrooms are situated in a widespread atrium. This was completed to maximize chance encounters between coworkers. It goes with out saying that this is how breakthroughs and options just “come about”.
When a firm is productive, the capacity to develop a way to systematically ward off complacency although at the exact same time obtaining approaches to uncover issues are most likely the two most hard concerns facing a Leader.
Postmortems are the essential to your company’s lengthy term success. No one likes to do them, but everyone learns from them. Catmull suggests changing the format of the postmortem meeting so that men and women never turn into complacent. He also suggests that you ask each and every group involved in the postmortem to develop a list of the five issues that they would do once more and the 5 issues that they would not do again. This creates a safer environment.

I guess at the end of the day, just like the teams at Pixar, we are all artists down deep. The tools that we use and the artwork that we develop may possibly be diverse from what we traditionally think of artists producing, but isn’t that what art is all about?