Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Low Risk Innovation

Business Week has an interesting article about how Pixar's John Lasseter is re-invigorating innovation and creativity at Disney's animation studios. Lasseter has come up with a relatively low risk, low cost strategy for doing so. He's funding the development of a series of five minute shorts, and he's asking young talent at the studio to direct them. The budget for a short represents less 2% of the money required to fund a major animated film. Therefore, he's deploying a relatively small amount of capital, yet providing talented up-and-comers an opportunity to try their hand at directing their first animated film. Interestingly, Walt Disney built his studio back in the 1930s based on a series of popular shorts. Now, it seems that Lasseter is returning Disney animation to its roots in hopes of rekindling the creativity that, once upon a time, made the Disney animators the envy of the entertainment world. Other firms should take notice, and they should look for their own low risk, low cost opportunities to spark innovation and creativity, while simultaneously developing and evaluating young talented employees.