Once upon a time, in the magical world of Pixar, there was a long, skinny table. This table, the silent observer of countless meetings, had a secret power. It shaped the dynamics of the discussions that took place around it.
The folks at Pixar, led by the visionary Ed Catmull, believed in the power of unhindered communication. But they soon realized that their table was playing tricks on them. Those sitting at the ends felt like their voices didn’t matter, while the ones in the middle seats seemed to have an unfair advantage. The table was creating a hierarchy that was contrary to Pixar’s core belief.
Ed decided to challenge the status quo. He replaced the long, skinny table with a more intimate square version, where everyone could interact equally. And just like that, the table lost its secret power, which was a great thing. The conversations became more inclusive, and the ideas flowed freely.
But old habits die hard. The place cards, symbols of the old hierarchy, still adorned the new table. It took the audacious act of Andrew Stanton, one of Pixar’s directors, to finally break this tradition. He shuffled the place cards, declaring, “We don’t need these anymore!” And with that, the last vestiges of the old hierarchy vanished.
This tale from Pixar’s early days is telling of how our environment subtly shapes our interactions. It also teaches us that solving a problem isn’t just about addressing the main issue. It’s about uprooting all the smaller problems that sprout from it.