The Perspective Behind Masterpieces

by August 26, 2008

Recently I was struck by the overlap between Pixar's recipe for success and a quote from Virginia Woolf that showed up in my summer reading.

"The success of the masterpieces seems to lie not so much in their freedom from faults -indeed we tolerate the grossest errors in them all- but in the immense persuasiveness of a mind which has completely master its perspective." -Virginia Wolf, The Death of the Moth
"We believe the creative vision propelling each movie comes from one or two people and not from either corporate executives or a development department. Our philosophy is: You get great creative people, you bet big on them, you give them enormous leeway and support, and you provide them with an environment in which they can get honest feedback from everyone." - Ed Catmull, cofounder and president of Pixar

In his Good Design Ain't Easy talk, Jason Santa Maria asked "why are there no landmark Web designs?" and suggested the nature of the medium may be to blame.

However, how many Web projects have been shepherded by mindful executives that resist their natural tendency to avoid or minimize risks? As Ed Catmull outlines, the more common instinct is "to choose to copy successes rather than try to create something brand new -that is why you see so many movies that are so much alike and a lot of films that are not very good. If you want to be original you have to accept uncertainty and have the capability to recover when your organization takes a big risk and fails."