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Working Environment Practice In Pixar Animation Studio

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Management
Wordcount: 3962 words Published: 3rd May 2017

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This report represents the Culture and Organisation analysis towards working environment practice in Pixar Animation Studio. The successful of Pixar Company is form by its unique culture toward its working environment which focuses on motivation in different ways, such as informal working styles. The theoretical framework: organization Cultural, Edgar Schein's level of cultural, and Cross-cultural Communication in this report are choosing to support and analysis in Pixar's working environment.

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1.1 Company Overview

The Pixar Company (www.pixar.com) was founded as a Graphics Group in year 1979 by Dr. Ed Catmull. It was a division from Lucasfilm limited, which has a well-known film - Star Wars. The Company was first based in California, United States and has the best practice in Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) animation feature films. CGI animation is an art creating technology system that combine and produce to shift the picture in a motion capture.

Pixar's product PhotoRealistic RenderMan (PRMan) was created to produce its in-house three-dimensional (3D) animation movies with a high quality image results. Hitherto, Pixar Animation Studios has made $5.5 billion throughout universally and had obtained 24 Academy Awards, 6 Golden Globes, and 3 Grammys. Pixar Company is aspiring to create computer-animated feature films with warm and unforgettable stories which allow to spectators in flexible ages.

The Company had created and produced 10 feature films. The most commercially successful film was Toy Story (1995), A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001), and Finding Nemo (2003); the films produced by Disney Digital 3-D was The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), Ratatouille (2007), Wall-E (2008), and Up (2009). Among those films, 5 of it had won the Academy Award for Best Animate Feature in year 2001.

Pixar's creative and technical team has many breakthroughs on the Computer Graphics (CG) technology. Therefore, Pixar Company had attracted the world-class professional into its creative and technology team. CG technology allows Pixar's produce a quality, vibrancy and riches; the technology also precisely controls the end product. Pixar Company tends to continue invest on CG technology to maintain its productions quality.

Besides, Pixar use its 3D technology to produce short films and television commercials to develop company's creative capability and technology improvement. There are six short films from Pixar had named in the list of Academy Award ® for Best Animated Short Film, they are Luxo Jr. (1986), Tin Toy (1988), Geri's Game (1997), For the Birds (2002), Mike's New Car (2003) One Man Band (2006).

The relationship between Pixar and Walt Disney had form by a Feature Film Agreement in year 1991. However in year 1997, the Co-Production Agreement had supplant the Feature Film Agreement to produce five original computer-animated feature-length theatrical motion pictures for Disney's distribution (Pixar - Corporate Overview, 2010).In the year 2006, Pixar was bought by The Walt Disney Company.

1.1.1 Pixar's Environment

"Pixar has an environment that nurtures trusting and respectful relationships and unleashes everyone's creativity…the result is a vibrant community where talented people are loyal to one another and their collective work, everyone feels that they are part of something extraordinary, and their passion and accomplishments make the community a magnet for talented people" An express by Dr. Ed Catmull in Harvard Business Review article (Stallard, M. L., 2009).

Furthermore, Pixar's employees are allow to spend their time in Pixar University, which provide plentiful courses related to filmmaking, art, creative, and others topic for Pixar's employees to strengthen their knowledge across the Company and filmmaking.

2.1 Identification of Pixar' working culture

Pixar - Company INFO (2010) noted "When you join Pixar Animation Studios, you become part of a studio driven by creativity, technical know-how, and a sense of humour to boot. You'll be working side by side with some of the most brilliant minds in their fields, interspersing your own ideas with theirs to collectively make the best films possible."

In order to create and effective working environment, Pixar highlight on:

Cultivate freedom, open, and honest communication with an effective feedback and mutual respect on every employees to develop the value of trust in between the organisation.

Egalitarian culture was seen important in Pixar. It provides respond on each idea from employees.

Keep close toward innovation to maintain product quality.

Trust the ideas and innovation from employees.

Pixar Company always has the sense to make its employees feeling as a part of the quality outcome. It is significant means on the trust between Pixar and its employees. Each employee has their important stance and the right to speak in Pixar working culture. These working cultures always provide the chance to attract better employee to deliver quality product and bring in advanced talent as a same time. Consequences, Pixar's success is comes from its open cooperation among talents people from multiple disciplines (Morris, J., 2010).

Morris, J. (2010) note that "Catmull's goal is to create an "all for one, one for all" mentality that helps employees overcome natural human traits that in other companies lead to the formation of silos and cliques which undermine learning".

Pixar Company focuses on development and continually enhancing its leadership, process, and accountability in its working environment. Pixar's employees feel they are stake in the success of everyone else; this is benefit from its goal of "all for one, one for all". For instance, the prefect result of Toy Story is complete by the creative and innovation from every employee in Pixar. Hence, employees are important assets of Pixar Company.

There are some commends on Pixar's working environment from its employees in Pixar - Company INFO (2010):

"Jiayi (General Technical Director) "I've been really impressed by how Pixar actually cares about what you want to do and tries to match you up with a job that falls within the realm of your interests."

Rob (Animator) "One of the best things about being an intern at Pixar is that you are surrounded by people who are super talented and have common goals, like strong work ethic and high expectations of themselves."

Taylor (Software Engineer) "Pixar is not a gloomy cubicle farm like so many companies but a bright, happy place full of well adjusted people. Though this company is older than I am, I feel like it has retained a vibrant, youthful spirit."

Afonso (Lighting Technical Director) "The sheer spirit of collaboration at Pixar always brings me a smile each day: every person is willing to teach you, but also to listen and learn from you. It is truly remarkable and helps to build this collective creative energy that is an inspiration and motivation at every moment of my job."

Matt (Layout) "I loved the atmosphere, work environment, the energy of my co-workers, and hoped that I could find a way to come back once I was done with school.""

According through these commends, employees are willing to working in Pixar's entertaining working environment and respect felling in individual perception.

3.1 Theoretical Framework Analysis

3.1.1 Organisational Cultural

Organisational cultural is huge; it includes "organisational structure and rules, values, feelings, norms, the organisation 'climate'" (Mead, R., 2005). It is also cover both the structural and experiential aspects reflected from both management goals and employee experiences, and recognizes the misunderstandings, disagreement, and conflict between management and workforce are always possible (Mead, R., 2005).

Organisation culture is an important influence in Pixar's working environment practices when planning and implementing their business strategies (Mead, R., 2005). Edgar Schein's theory had note that there are two types of organisation characteristic shows in the organisation cultural.

Organisation A is with an open environment in the office structure and the dynamic interaction between employees. Conflict and disagreement are seen to be healthy to encourage the growing environment in the organisation. Different management style belief ideas are from individuals who care concerning on the organisation (Clark, J. and Copcutt, L, 1997).

Organisation B is with a closed environment where employees have less interaction between each others. The organisation is in formal atmosphere and traditional management that organisation accept ideas from experiences (Clark, J. and Copcutt, L, 1997). Organisation Cultural means in Pixar Company

The working cultural in Pixar Company is similar with Organisation A's characteristic as an informal working environment. Pixar's employees might set up individual working environment. A relaxing working place is tending to be more innovative, productive, and creative output. Employees will be happy to work in a playful environment than in a stressful and boring environment. Pixar Company not only focuses on high quality production, it is also emphasizing on having fun in working place.

Brad Bird an animator in Pixar state "If you walk around downstairs in the animation area, you'll see that it is unhinged. People are allowed to create whatever front to their office they want. One guy might build a front that's like a Western town. Someone else might do something that looks like Hawaii" (Hawn, C., 2008).

Conflict and disagreement in Pixar is an important issue means in innovative and creation. In Pixar Company, individual's ideas are allow release in public; therefore it might lead to comparisons between products. However, Pixar see this is good for Company to collect additional innovative ideas.

3.2.1 Edgar Schein's level of cultural

Other than these, Schein, E. H. (2004) note that "I prefer basic assumptions because these tend to be taken for granted by group members and are treated as non-negotiable. Values are open to discussion and people can agree to disagree about them. Basic assumptions are so taken for granted that someone who does not hold them is viewed as a "foreigner" or as "crazy" and is automatically dismissed."

Schein, E. H. had described the main levels of cultural into three levels: Artefacts, Values, and Assumptions (Figure 1.1).

Figure 1.1 Level of Culture

Source from: Schein, E. H. (2004) Artefacts

According to Edgar Schein's framework, artefacts is the level cover "the visible products of the group, such as the architecture of its physical environment; its language; its technology and products; its artistic creations; its style, as embodied in clothing, manners of address, emotional displays, and myths and stories told about the organisation; its published lists of values; its observable rituals and ceremonies." (Schein, E. H., 2004).

The artefacts level is easy to observe and is hard to elucidate; observes might define as an individual views and feels on a happening, but is tough to decipher or even reflect from original assumptions. It comprise the purpose of cultural analysis and organizational processes by consider in behavior which is made routine, and structural elements.

Schein, E. H. (2004) note that "it is especially dangerous to try to infer the deeper assumptions from artefacts alone, because one's interpretations will inevitably be projections of one's own feelings and reactions. For example, when one sees a very informal, loose organisation, one may interpret that as inefficient if one's own background is based on the assumption that informality means playing around and not working." Espoused Beliefs and Values

Schein, E. H. (2004)note that "all group learning ultimately reflects someone's original beliefs and values, their sense of what ought to be, as distinct from what is". Therefore individual who prevail can influence the group to adopt a certain approach to the problem (Schein, E. H., 2004).

Schein, E. H. (2004) note "when a group is first created or when it faces a new task, issue, or problem, the first solution proposed to deal with it reflects some individual's own assumptions about what is right or wrong, what will work or not work".

Therefore, Pixar believe that having a good working environment is a critical issue to consider in providing comfortable feeling and enough fun in the collaboration to maintain great producer team. Basic Assumptions

Schein, E. H. (2004) note the "basic assumptions have become so taken for granted that one finds little variation within a social unit; this degree of consensus results from repeated success in implementing certain beliefs and values".

The essence of culture represents the basic assumption and values that feel tough to decipher. However the basic assumptions provide certain ways to understand on the things happened. The basic assumptions are defined as the deeper length of human life, for instance, relationship, human nature, activity, and truth. Edgar Schein's level of cultural mean in Pixar Company

The Pixar Company is a group emphasize on its artefacts outcome. Throughout the process of the outcome, the outline of behaviour, espoused values and belief, and basic assumptions are the facts will affect the organisation cultural.

Throughout the productive process, employee will shows individual perception in the process; for a while, the communication between Pixar's employees might turn out some conflict and disagreement in their discussion. Nonetheless, Pixar emphasize that these argument are good for its outcome. This is mean ghastly for the individual who provide the idea.

Beliefs might define significantly as respect to each other. Pixar's leadership do right to understanding its employees. Employees in Pixar Company are constantly having the greater respect on their individual feeling, because of the open culture in Pixar working environment.

A great leader has the unique power and responsibility to form a unique working environment and make it successfully. However, a less effective leader will set free in the environment in wrong issues that including their ego perception.

Ruby, S. (2007) noted "Catmull also believes in taking care of employees, both in principle and as a money-saving tool. With so many "overachieving people working for overachieving managers" to produce Toy Story 2, Pixar started limiting the number of hours people could work and hired a full-time ergonomist and masseuse. Injuries dropped dramatically, along with insurance premiums, he said."

3.3.1 Cross-cultural Communication

Cross-cultural Training depicts that individual's preparation from a culture to interact more effectively from different cultures; it is strives to develop the understanding of essential variations in values and communication styles to reduce interaction's misunderstanding (Landy, F. J. and Conte, J. M., 2009).

Resembling throughout Pixar Company, their products are produces to internationally, therefore the animator has to consider on worldwide cultural. The prefect way for an animator to understand others culture is to see, learn, and learn in their life.

LeBaron, M. (2003) note "Cross-cultural communication will be outlined and demonstrated by examples of ideas, attitudes, and behaviours involving four variables: Time and Space, Fate and Personal Responsibility, Face and Face-Saving, and Nonverbal Communication." Time and Space

LeBaron, M. (2003) note "Differences over time can play out in painful and dramatic ways in negotiation or conflict-resolution processes. An example of differences over time comes from a negotiation process related to a land claim that took place in Canada. First Nations people met with representatives from local, regional, and national governments to introduce themselves and begin their work. During this first meeting, First Nations people took time to tell the stories of their people and their relationships to the land over the past seven generations. They spoke of the spirit of the land, the kinds of things their people have traditionally done on the land and their sacred connection to it. They spoke in circular ways, weaving themes, feelings, ideas, and experiences together as they remembered seven generations into the past and projected seven generations forward."

An international Company such as Pixar, employees will feel strain when having communication with staff in other branch. Time and space issues can lead to uncomfortable in the meeting when certain employees are from different time and space. Fate and Personal Responsibility

Fate and personal responsibility is an important issue to understanding and avoiding cultural conflict. LeBaron, M. (2003) note "the degree to which we feel ourselves the masters of our lives, versus the degree to which we see ourselves as subject to things outside our control. Another way to look at this is to ask how much we see ourselves able to change and manoeuvre, to choose the course of our lives and relationships."

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Face is important in cross cultural communication, it is mean that an individual's self-esteem in the particular environment. Face has been describe as "the negotiated public image, mutually granted each other by participants in communication. Face includes ideas of status, power, courtesy, insider and outsider relations, humour, and respect. In many cultures, maintaining face is of great importance, though ideas of how to do this vary" (LeBaron, M., 2003). Individual should be respect and motivate in every environment to protect and see important on them self. Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication may always lead misunderstanding when the message is uncertain. LeBaron, M. (2003) note the "Nonverbal cues when verbal messages are unclear or ambiguous, as they are more likely to be across cultures (especially when different languages are being used). Since nonverbal behaviour arises from our cultural common sense -- our ideas about what is appropriate, normal, and effective as communication in relationships -- we use different systems of understanding gestures, posture, silence, special relations, emotional expression, touch, physical appearance, and other nonverbal cues." Cross-cultural Communication mean in Pixar Company

Each of the issues is affecting the company communication section and significant influence on its working culture. These issues has means all the individual esteem, understanding, and flexible in different environment or issues.

In Pixar Company, employees are working in the environment which design by themselves and being respect by top management in the branch. Every employees has already use to the environment to create individual product. Employees will not like to change the environment which they already use to it. Furthermore, sometime changes will lead to uncomfortable and conflict.

In order to avoid from conflict, miscommunication and misinterpretation, Pixar should pay attention on its management and leadership arrangement although it is very complex to manage.

4.1 Changes and Improvement throughout the analysis

In the part of the ghastly feeling when employees being reject from their ideas, Pixar Company is able to award and praise its employees who had provide the particular idea. This is a motivation on the action and to protect the sense of self respect of the employee and to ensure the employee has the confident to speak out in the next situation. Because a great movie is always form by enormous idea from every employees in the company. "Pixar employees are more engaged in their work than employees of the average organization. And because they are more engaged Pixar employees put more effort in their work, they are more trusting and more cooperative, all factors that affect productivity, quality and innovation" (Stallard, M. L., 2009).

Vegard, I. (2008) had noted that company "need to make sure that the group and the people or organisations within which an international team operates always has a baseline of trust. Without it everything will come to a standstill sooner or later. Trust doesn't come easily."

Continuous provide its employees a flexible working environment it is available to newer creative and innovation. The implementation on its informal working style has become a huge issue towards Pixar's working environment philosophy. Human Resources Leader (2010) note that "One of the ways of creating this culture of fun is ensuring that every person in the organisation knows what their own dream is and what the company's dream is. Therefore they become excited about what they're doing and where they are going, and while they are having fun in work they are still working towards a common goal and vision."

Human Resources Leader (2010) note that "This culture of playfulness must all stem from the leadership team, says Capodagli, which in Pixar is very much the case. The leadership team should make sure that people are allowed to have fun, and although the leader may not be the practical joking type who is as much fun as someone else, he has to make it his job to create an atmosphere where it's okay to enjoy oneself."

Furthermore, leadership style is the main consideration to justify the successful of unsuccessful of the company. Even though the Pixar's leadership have strong respect on individual stance, the justification on the ideas stands heavy for them. The truthful or erroneous determination pressure will impact its outcome. The communication between leadership and staff is essential in ideas exchange in order to have better product. Vegard, I. (2008) notes that to "put strategically important staff (not only managers) in touch with employees in similar functions across the corporate group, not only within one company of its own. Enable people to share their expertise independently of their position in the organisational ladder or functional place."


Nowadays, some organisations are typically concern on their working environment. In Pixar Company, its working environment is in huge different with other formality company. The open working culture might shape well in Pixar's as a creative company; however, it is easy to be loss of control. Pixar Company should have strong leadership to handle in the environment in order to maintain and keep improvement.

The company against on putting an individual into a serious environment; this will lead the work start with drudgery. Human Resources Leader (2010) note from Bill Capodagli's talk "You need to take your job seriously but yourself not as seriously". Although Pixar works are tough and time needed, their philosophy on working culture is always same. They emphasize the fun in work is important to keep in highly successful.


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