I love that ritual and we’ve fully adopted that at Coda. Works great!
But we merged the idea of Roles with another fantastic ritual from an iconic company: Pixar.
Here’s a fun fact: Since 1979, Pixar has created 24 feature-length films and earned 23 Academy Awards®.
What’s the secret to their success? Is it a particularly talented individual? A piece of unique hardware or software? Something about the food they eat?
No no no. When you ask anyone from Pixar about this, they always talk about a ritual: the Pixar Braintrust.
It’s a simple idea - when you’re making a film at Pixar, you regularly schedule screenings with a group called the Braintrust. They all watch the movie together and listen for each other’s reactions. There’s very careful note of when someone laughs, when they cry, and how much. And afterwards, there’s a very frank discussion with the braintrust.
Much of that process is amazing, but probably feels distant for those of those that don’t make films for a living. But the part that really stuck with me was the name. Braintrust.
I’ve always struggled with role taxonomies like RAPID, DACI, RACI, etc because they all start with the idea of an explicit Approver. And it’s just so easy to have that disempower the truly responsible driver. But at Pixar, this role was clear - the Braintrust doesn’t approve anything. In fact, you’re not even required to take your film to the braintrust. And yet every filmmaker does - on average a movie does 8 braintrust screenings before release.
At Coda, we renamed our Approver role to Braintrust. We wrote down a set of principles - like Add Lift not Drag. We don’t want people to dread these reviews or these reviewers - feedback is a gift, and we want to make sure it’s seen that way.