Pixar, the Hollywood studio that brought us such gems as Up,Toy Story and Monsters Inc., is renown for its innovative and inspiring workplace culture. They do a great job at celebrating success, going so far as to give a “Production Babies” credit at the end of their movies listing any babies that were born to employees during the making of a movie. And leaders at Pixar have purposefully created a lighthearted work atmosphere that encourages the use of humor to break down power structures, build trust, strengthen social bonds and spark creativity.Pixar has even been commended for it’s anti-Hippo culture: “HiPPO” being a Silicon Valley term referring to the phenomenon that happens in many uninspiring workplaces where the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion dominates discussions and trumps the decision-making process.
To help maintain an anti-HiPPO environment, Pixar leaders use a playful tone and plenty of humor, especially during the fledgling stages of idea development, to ensure everybody’s voice is heard and that everybody’s ideas are given fair treatment.
So if you want your teams to feel more animated about their ideas and to create your own version of movie magic, then try using a little humor to level the playing field and remove any hippos that might be getting between you and the truly best idea in the room.
Michael Kerr, 2012, www.HumoratWork.com
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