Monsters at Work–Pixar at Work. All on Disney at Work
There is much on Disney+ that not only teaches us about what matters most in life, but what works at work! This week Pixar released a new series of shorts that center around the work life of Monsters Inc. This humorous adventure shows how change occurs when the product being produced goes from scares to laughs. It’s particularly impactful on a new employee who planned his whole life to work at Monsters Inc., but now finds himself in the maintenance department when he no longer can use his strengths he forged in screaming. It’s a great little satire about how organizations must be agile to change.
At the same time, another Disney+ offering showcases life at Pixar itself, and how some problematic trends in developing a dominant number of male characters became noticed by a front line worker, Jessica Heidt, assigned to manage script documentation. This too offers tremendous insight as to the culture of Pixar and how it is working to move its internal culture forward in positive and impactful ways.
Monsters at Work: Episodes One & Two
Set after the main events of Monsters, Inc., the city of Monstropolis is making the transition to be fuelled by the sound of laughter. Tylor Tuskmon, a recent Scare Major graduate from Monsters University, working as a mechanic in the Facilities Team, dreams of working alongside his idols, Mike Wazowski and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan.
Insights from Monsters at Work:
- World-class organizations must be agile to change.
- A key mantra is important in getting everyone pointed in the same direction. And it’s more than just a slogan
- Onboarding new employees along with orientation is critical to a new hire.
- Flattening the organization matters–even with simply using first names.
- It’s important to recognize those in the back of the house who work to support the front of the house.
- Traditions must have relevance and meaning (MIFT Membership).
- Delegation may not be urgent, but it’s important. You can’t run on 36 1/2 Hour Energy Drinks
- Provide opportunities for promotion from within.
- Team’s matter–Even MIFT
Inside Pixar, Inspired: Jessica Heidt–Who Gets All the Lines?
A documentary series of personal and cinematic stories that provide an inside look into the people, artistry, and culture of Pixar Animation Studios. In Episode Four, Script Supervisor Jessica Heidt manages endless lines of dialogue. Through her script access, she detected a disparity in male to female roles, motivating her to create a program to improve gender balance throughout Pixar’s films and the greater film industry.
Insights from this episode of Inside Pixar:
- Jessica Heidt is a script supervisor who manages not people, but scripts. She has responsibility for making sure everyone is literally on the same page.
- 2007-2013 for every six people on the screen, four would be male and two would be female. Less than 1/3 of the characters were female.
- Jessica in her role could see the film in a way no one else could.
- She didn’t have power to make a change, but in her role Pixar allowed her to have a voice.
- Response was largely positive. They knew it was a problem, but didn’t see it as a big a problem.
- Partnering with Josh Minor in the tools department developing software to better quantify that.
- Looking at the gender count became a part of every milestone in the film development process.
- Cars 3 she counted lines of dialogue in terms of male and female. First script was 90% male.
- On Soul it became 50/50. It’s not prescriptive to be 50/50, but that the studio should be able to look at films over 7 years and average out to being that number.
- Efforts around things that matter, like creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive brand or culture require being intentional.
- The Russell Award is provided to those who are unsung heroes. It was given to Jessica Heidt for her work as a script supervisor.
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