Pixar UniversityPosted: February 25, 2006
I read an article a few weeks ago in the NY Times on Pixar’s employee training program.
According to Randy S. Nelson, who joined the company in 1997 and is dean of Pixar University… “We’ve made the leap from an idea-centered business to a people-centered business. Instead of developing ideas, we develop people. Instead of investing in ideas, we invest in people. We’re trying to create a culture of learning, filled with lifelong learners. It’s no trick for talented people to be interesting, but it’s a gift to be interested. We want an organization filled with interested people.”
Pixar University … has more than 110 courses: a complete filmmaking curriculum, classes on painting, drawing, sculpting and creative writing. ”We offer the equivalent of an undergraduate education in fine arts and the art of filmmaking,” he said. Every employee — whether an animator, technician, production assistant, accountant, marketer or security guard — is encouraged to devote up to four hours a week, every week, to his or her education.
At one class, the sixth session of a nine-week course called ”Lighting and Motion Picture Capture,” the students represented an intriguing cross-section of Pixar employees: a post-production software engineer, a set dresser, a marketer, even a company chef, Luigi Passalacqua. ”I speak the language of food,” he said. ”Now I’m learning to speak the language of film.”
‘The skills we develop are skills we need everywhere in the organization,” Mr. Nelson said. ”Why teach drawing to accountants? Because drawing class doesn’t just teach people to draw. It teaches them to be more observant. There’s no company on earth that wouldn’t benefit from having people become more observant.”
OK, not every company out there works in such a cool field like Pixar. An internal university program for a paper products company doesn’t sound like it would be too compelling. But encouraging employees to always be making themselves better through continued education is a great idea. It could be as simple as providing time and budget for self study.