21 September 2010

Uncertainty Is The Principle - by Robert Anderson

      Posted 09/18/10 07:39:00 pm  

A great quote from Ed Catmull, part of the brain trust at Pixar:

“On managers self-destructive tendencies for creative work:

"The notion that you’re trying to control the process and prevent error screws things up. We all know the saying it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And everyone knows that, but I Think there is a corollary: if everyone is trying to prevent error, it screws things up. It’s better to fix problems than to prevent them. And the natural tendency for managers is to try and prevent error and over plan things.” 

Another great quote that I like is from General G.S. Patton:

 “If everybody’s thinking alike, somebody isn’t thinking.”

A production of any significant size and complexity is one of inherent uncertainty and it becomes the responsibility of the Producer to manage this. Part of our reason for being in this position is to anticipate everything that can go wrong and take steps to avoid it.  One can take this too literally and spend far too much time in trying to solve issues before they occur.

There will always be what can be considered a certain amount of "waste" that takes place. The mistake would be in thinking that this is always a bad thing. Obviously too much waste of resources will sink your project but trying to resolve all potential issues will surely sink your project faster. In a creative process there will always need to be a certain amount of experimentation that is required in order to solve problems associated with the desired outcome. This is important for pushing the medium that you are in.

Expect mistakes to happen.  If you encourage an environment of collaboration then when mistakes do take place it becomes more of a group initiative to fix them.

Create a more regimented environment then mistakes will still happen but no one will want to point them out and by the time you hear about them it will be too late to do anything about it.

There are all sorts of definitions that can be used for best practices. Bottom line for me is if you want to be a part of something that is successful, however you wish to define that, then be part of it. Don’t try to over control it. Until someone invents a real Heisenberg Compensator, then you need to accept the fact that no one can anticipate everything that can go wrong. Nor should you, as that is part of the creative process.

Expect the unexpected but don’t waste too much time in trying to avoid it. Deal with it as it comes!

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