Transcript of Jonah Lehrer

Jonah Lehrer: The Pixar studios were largely designed by Steve Jobs. People at Pixar will often refer to the building as “Steve’s Movie.” And the original plan for the Pixar Studios called for three separate buildings. One building for the animators, one building for the computer scientists, one building for everyone else, the writers, directors, editors and so on. Jobs took one look at this and said that’s a terrible idea. He then insisted everyone be in the exact same space because he realized the success of Pixar would depend on these cultures learning how to collaborate; getting the engineers and the computer scientists and the animators to work together, to learn from each other, to share knowledge. But Jobs realized it’s not enough to just put people in the same building. You have to force them to mix and mingle so then he carved up this big atrium in the center and he started putting everything important in the atrium, the lobby. He put the gift store there and the mail boxes there and the coffee shop there and the Luxo Café there and he realized, you know what, even that’s not enough because you can build people this lovely cafeteria but the computer scientists would still have lunch with the computer scientists and so on; that they still wouldn’t interact. That’s when he had his big idea, which was that there should be only two bathrooms in the entire Pixar Studios and he put those in the atrium. So there’s one place everyone has to go every day, it’s the bathroom. And even though this was so inconvenient because that meant you would have to walk ten minutes to pee if you were located on the far side of the office, now you hear again and again at Pixar these stories of the bathroom epiphany; about the great unexpected conversation people had while washing their hands or in the hallway on their way to the bathroom. That as Jobs once put it, “creativity is just connecting things.” Well most of those connections come from other people which is why it I think one of the secrets of Pixar’s success is that they are always forcing their employees to interact.