Spectacular success – wrong conclusions

Spectacular success doesn’t lead to deep introspection, which in turn leads to wrong conclusions. You see this all the time, right? Successful companies draw conclusions about how smart and good they are, and then a significant number of them fall off the cliff because they drew the wrong conclusions.”
Ed Catmull
(of Pixar) here.

The article above provides Ed Catmall’s interesting take on how Pixar needs to “simultaneously create a culture of doubt—of being open to careful, systematic introspection—and inspire confidence,” as well as contrasting the technology (and other) risks against their need to be creative.

Many would see the OSS industry as being a highly technical endeavour, and they’d be right. I see our industry as being far more creative than many would give it credit for, perhaps because it is presided over by so many technical experts.

However, I believe our industry needs more creative input than at any other period in my career in OSS. I wonder whether the successful companies are at risk of drawing the conclusion that incremental improvement is all that is needed to remain relevant.

As Ed states, “Likewise, with technology, we know that if we don’t change the technology from film to film, we can become extraordinarily efficient because everybody knows how to use it. But we also know we’ll become out-of-date if we do that. So we introduce new technology. Sometimes it’s a small risk and sometimes it’s a complete replacement of the underlying infrastructure—a huge risk, with great angst and pain. But our people buy into it because it’s for the good of the studio, even though they know it will cause them so much trouble.”

Does anyone else see a Nokia moment looming, where the status quo that is being incrementally refined is suddenly usurped by a new approach that makes it obsolete?

Wave after wave of innovation are eroding the pillars that hold up that status quo.

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