James Cameron is a renowned film writer, producer and director whose films have blazed new trails in visual effects and set numerous performance records both domestically and abroad. He shared his experience of creating the block buster movie Avatar at World Business Forum 2010.
His story illustrates many of the points that speakers over the past 2 days have made. Leaders in their fields across multiple industries tell a very similar story. To name just a couple of the common threads, AG Lafley from P&G talked about the importance of curiosity, openness and collaborating and Jack Welsh talked about fielding the best talent and how fear was an ineffective management tool. Following are 5 points from James Cameron’s presentation.
1. Be curious and open to learning. “Curiosity is the most important thing we have – we pursue avenues for things we do not know what the pay off will be.” I will thrust myself into any situation where I think I can learn.
2. Collaboration is a dynamic process. Each group has a role in making the movie come to life, the designers, the actors, the writers and the editors. The film takes on a new life in each stage of the process with the expansion of the team.
3. People empower you to lead. Leadership can be learned. Dictatorial style is not as good as an encouraging style. Be firm and in charge but not authoritarian. Leadership skills that were not innate could be learned. To be a good leader you get the best out of people by respecting them. You have to be analytical and critical of yourself as a leader, and always be open to learning.
4. Your personal passion gets you a long way. Passion is a strong motivator for others, they can see your vision and feel that you will accomplish it.
5. Timing is critical in innovation. Innovation is like riding a wave, don’t create the wave, harness the energy it’s building. Commit to what you are trying to create. Too much study causes opportunities to pass you by and premature launch can also lead to failure.
So as we look at Avatar and the new and innovative techniques used to create this movie and the passion that allowed the team to stay together and make it happen, we may wonder how to translate this message to our personal and professional lives. I propose a few questions that I will be thinking about as take aways. What am I passionate about in my work and in my community? What am I curious about? How can I combine curiosity and passion to spark innovation in my work?