Pixar Animation Studios Ed Catmull says he’s learned the hard way that it’s more important to hire the right people than to have the perfect idea. And how do you do that? “This is an area where we used to have some wrongheaded assumptions. It drove me nuts for awhile. When we hire people, we’re generally under the incredible time crunch of a production. The natural inclination was to hire people who had reached a certain skill level, people who assuredly could do the job. That’s a mistake. What you want to do is select people who are on an upward trajectory in the arc of their careers. You are better off picking people based on where they are going than on where they are now. We’ve learned to hire based on potential rather than on position.” Catmull says that one aspect of the Pixar work environment that’s enabled them to attract top talent is that in theory, everyone starts on a level playing field. “One thing that’s unique about our culture, I think, is that we recognize that the artistic side and the technical side are equal. We’ve set it up so that each has the potential to earn the same compensation. In any endeavor, it’s not as if you have geniuses on one side and the drones on the other. I think there’s a lot of unhealthiness in cultures that let one side predominate.”

Fortune Small Business 1 Feb 2003