<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=290086984736480&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
word-map-thumb

The Alternative Board Blog

Who is the Brain Trust for Your Business?

Apr. 9, 2014 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
Moral Compass

Fast Company had a fascinating series of articles on Ed Catmull this month. Catmull is the not-particularly-well-known president of Pixar. He has just put out a book called Creativity Inc. which deals with the topic of managing a creative company. Fast Company said Creativity Inc “just might be the most thoughtful management book ever”. Catmull’s track record of success has demonstrated that he knows something about management. Each of Pixar’s fourteen films has debuted at the top of the box office charts. What an amazing track record of success!

Naturally, any business leader would want to know what the secret is to Catmull’s success. In Creativity Inc, he makes it pretty clear. It’s something he calls the Brain Trust. This is a group of advisors from within Pixar – and now at Disney Animation – that are assembled as advisors on every project. He calls it our primary delivery system for straight talk.

Catmull says:

 “Our decision is made better when we can draw on the collective knowledge and unvarnished opinions of the group. Candor is the key to collaborating effectively.”

What is Catmull’s role in the Brain Trust? He says that “I see my primary role as making sure that the compact upon which the meetings are based is protected and upheld.” At TAB, we find this role to be critical. We call it facilitation. Without this role, you can certainly have a bunch of smart people trying to help each other achieve more. But without someone who manages the compact between the group – confidentiality, fairness, openness, ensuring no one person dominates, and indeed candor – the group just won’t reach its peak potential.

What are some other reasons why Pixar’s Brain Trust has led to an almost unbelievable stretch of blockbusters?

  • When Pixar took over Disney, Disney did not have a Brain Trust. “...the deep identification a founder can have with his company is like the identification that a director has with the film he is trying to make. It’s extraordinary to pull yourself out of that equation.” We see exactly this. The other board members – other business owners – provide perspective that the business owner is just to close to see. This is invaluable.
  • The movie director does not have to take the advice of the Brain Trust. This complements the candor. It is another part of the compact. The attendees do not have to accept or act on every piece of advice. But the compact does require that members consider the input with an open mind.
  • The Brain Trust includes notes to get to the root cause of the issue. We call these clarifying questions. One of the key roles for the facilitator is first ensure that the problem and the underlying cause are very clear. First diagnose, then prescribe.

Catmull’s experience with the Brain Trust is exactly why we established Peer Boards for business owners. Business owners have lots of other people willing to give them advice. They get input from family but that advice is shrouded in emotion. A few businesses have particularly bold employees who will give the owner their straight opinion. They may have great advice but until they walk in the owner’s shoes, their advice can only go so far. Consultants, bankers, lawyers? Sure, they have a lot to offer. But many times they have a vested interest in the outcome of their advice.

As one of our members portrayed the value of a Brain Trust: “Camaraderie that is bound in trust and the astute advice and wisdom from other board members..... is priceless.”

Who do you turn to for the truth about your business? Leave your comments below, or tweet us @TAB_boards!

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board

DOWNLOAD

Written by The Alternative Board Worldwide

Related posts

Developing The Art Of Time Management
Feb. 19, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
Although many of you are fantastic managers of your employees and operations, the issue of good time management is almost always a part of every discussion I have with business owners. Good time...
Keep Your Team Productive and Motivated in Our Uncertain Times
Feb. 14, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
There’s a great deal of uncertainty in the world today, some of which directly (or indirectly) affects the businesses you lead. Political, financial, cultural and religious upheavals generate what...
5 Tips on Reducing Workplace Distractions
Feb. 12, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
These days, employees are faced with an unprecedented onslaught of workplace distractions, chief among them all the apps and digital sideshows that now pervade everyone’s consciousness. With all of...
Leadership Part II: Why be a Boss when you can be a Leader?
Feb. 6, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
In my past 30 years of business I have met thousands of business owners and while all of them have been the ‘boss’, not all of them have been leaders. How to be a better leader is a topic that comes...
Management Skills Part 1: Transitioning from Employee to Manager
Jan. 22, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
In my work with business owners, many of them have expressed a desire to transition a certain employee to a more senior role at their company. However, this promotion sometimes doesn’t happen because...
Leadership Tips in a Time of Rapid Business Growth
Jan. 22, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
Solid leadership is critical during every phase of a company’s evolution. This is probably most important during a time when a business undergoes a period of rapid growth. According to serial...
Why More Female Business Owners Are Joining Boards
Jan. 10, 2019 | Posted by Phil Spensieri, TAB York Region
It’s encouraging to see more women business owners joining boards. I’ve found that most women in management, specifically on boards, offer a different style of leadership and a fresh perspective,...
Planning Your Employee Recruitment Strategy for 2019
Jan. 1, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
Getting top-quality new hires isn’t something that happens by accident. Nor should such a recruitment strategy spring up only when an important position suddenly opens up. The key to assembling a...
How to Boost Working Capital for Small Businesses
Dec. 5, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
How well do you understand the concept and significance of working capital? A surprising number of small business leaders aren’t necessarily conversant with the term, though they follow its...
How To Build A World-class Sales Team
Dec. 5, 2018 | Posted by The Alternative Board Worldwide
You may have the best product or service out there, but if you lack a high-performing sales team, chances are your business will suffer. As anyone who’s ever been in (or dealt with) sales knows, it...