I was reading a business book this morning and it inspired these thoughts. The focus was on the work environment and how a particular work space can help or hinder creativity. This idea resonated with me because I've had an interest in the places people do their work and I've always considered it significant. However, some businessmen and women might find these concerns trivial. They’re not, actually. The design of a workspace can be critical to the success or failure of a company.
Following this train of thought, I remembered the planning room down the hall from my office at Pixar Animation Studios. This is where our boss, Steve Jobs did his planning for the new facility that would soon be under construction in Emeryville. At the time I was so focused on my work and the film in production I barely took notice how Steve obsessed over every detail in the new structure. Of course, this was typical of Steve Jobs to sweat every detail. Looking back on that time in Point Richmond, I realize how much the new Pixar facility was truly the brain child of Steve Jobs. The building was more than just a space for the increasing number of Pixar employees, but Steve envisioned the space as a dynamic creative center where fantastic new ideas would be tried and tested. Much the same way he created the spaces for Apple and Next, Inc., the Pixar Animation Studio facility would truly be a reflection of it's creator, Steve Jobs.
We've recently opened new space here at Disney's Creative Campus in Glendale and I've been exploring the six floor facility trying to get a sense of the building's vibe. This is a work space after all, and it's important it be an effective one. Although I've heard a few complaints the overall reaction to the facility has been good and I feel a positive energy on all six floors of the building. This is in direct contrast to the facilities constructed a decade ago during the previous management. Disney's Animation Building on Riverside Drive is the most blatant example. The structure has always reminded me of the management's nineteen nineties arrogance. It's little wonder the premiere animation unit began to flounder once moving into the ill conceived building.
Fortunately, the vibe here in Glendale is a positive one and a stroll around the Disney campus truly reminds one of a university. This is important of course. Even in a work environment we should always be learning. Like a university there should be an abundance of outdoor spaces where one can sit with colleagues for an impromptu meeting or find some time alone for reflection. When I think back to my time on the Walt Disney Studio lot I recall doing some of my best work while casually strolling around the campus. Sometimes stepping away from your desk and going for a walk is often time the best way to solve problems or come up with fresh ideas. As a kid back in the nineteen sixties I remember our boss, Walt Disney walking around the studio lot deep in thought. I’m willing to bet the Old Maestro probably came up with his best ideas while making his rounds on a sunny California afternoon.
If you’re still part of the work force I hope you’ve been given a nice place to work. That doesn’t necessarily mean an opulent facility with classy offices complete with wall to wall carpeting and custom made drapery. Rather, it’s place conducive to creativity and collaboration. An environment that’s pleasant, comfortable and where employees actually enjoy coming to work each day. It’s hardly a surprise that both Walt Disney and Steve Jobs understood the importance and value of a positive work environment.