Honesty and candor
What is a brain trust? It is a team of passionate, focused and driven people in an organization who come together to help solve a problem.
What does the brain trust do? They challenge the owner of the problem, whether it’s company strategy, product decisions, a new marketing campaign.
How does the brain trust work? According to Catmull, the key ingredient to the power of the brain trust is complete candor.
To get a clearer sense of how candor is delivered at Pixar, I want to take you inside a Braintrust meeting. This one followed an early screening of a Pete Docter ﬁlm, then known as The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind. [It's now called Inside Out, and is scheduled for release in 2015.] As Braintrusts go, this was a crowded one, with about 20 people at the table and 15 more in chairs against the walls. Everyone grabbed plates of food on the way in and, after a little small talk, got down to business.
Earlier, before the screening, Pete had described what they'd come up with so far. "What's inside the mind?" he asked his colleagues. "Your emotions—and we've worked really hard to make these characters look the way those emotions feel. We have our main character, an emotion called Joy, who is effervescent. She literally glows when she's excited. Then we have Fear. He thinks of himself as conﬁdent and suave, but he's a little raw nerve and tends to freak out. The other characters are Anger, Sadness—her shape is inspired by teardrops—and Disgust, who basically turns up her nose at everything. And all these guys work at what we call Headquarters."
That got a laugh, as did many scenes in the 10-minute preview that followed. Everyone agreed that the movie had the potential to be, like Pete's previous ﬁlm Up, among our most original and affecting. But there seemed to be a consensus that one key scene—an argument between two characters about why certain memories fade while others burn bright forever—was too minor to sufﬁciently...