Strategic Alignment: Pixar Puts the “Corpus” Back in Corporation

The definition of corporation is “a group of people combined into or acting as one body.”  My colleague Jason Pankau pointed out to me that the root word of corporation is “corpus,” which in Latin means “body.”

Does your organization act like one body?

Do personal rivalries and silos exist so that the members are working at times against the body’s interest?

One of the greatest challenges leaders face is to lead the members of the corporate body to work together as one.  We call this “strategic alignment.” Great leaders increase strategic alignment  by making it clear that “we” are one organization.  They find ways to make members feel proud of the overall organization.  They get out regularly to meet people and tell stories about members who sacrificed the me for the we.  They reward members who cooperate and help their colleagues and the overall organization. They confront members who behave in selfish ways.  They promote a feeling of partnership so that everyone feels like part of the team and that they can make a difference.

Ed Catmull, CEO of Pixar Animation, excels at this.  On one trip when I visited Pixar’s corporate headquarters, I observed an extraordinary Connection Culture.  Here’s what Catmull once wrote about his aspiration for Pixar’s culture:

“What we can do is construct an environment that nurtures trusting and respectful relationships and unleashes everyone’s creativity.  If we get it right, 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 coming out of schools or working at other places.  I know what I’m describing is the antithesis of the free-agency practices that prevail in the movie industry, but that’s the point: I believe that community matters.”

Does Catmull’s description fit your organization?  If not, why don’t you become a catalyst for change.  Get started today by reading this changethis manifesto entitled  The Connection Culture: A New Source of Competitive Advantage.

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