When your boss saves your job

Bob Sutton, author of the excellent book Good Boss Bad Boss tells this story from the very early days at Pixar:

The company was under financial pressure and much of this pressure came down on the heads of the Division’s leaders, Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith.

The new president, Doug Norby, wanted to bring some discipline to Lucasfilm, and was pressing Catmull and Smith to do some fairly deep layoffs. The two couldn’t bring themselves to do it.

But Norby was unmoved. He was pestering Ed and Alvy for a list of names from the Computer Division to lay off, and Ed and Alvy kept blowing him off. Finally came the order: “You will be in my office tomorrow morning at 9:00 with a list of names.”

So what did these two bosses do? They showed up in his office at 9:00 and plunked down a list. It had two names on it: Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith.

Remember, there are many great managers out there. If you work for one who isn’t great, don’t just accept that as the natural state of things. Do something about it.

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2 thoughts on “When your boss saves your job”

  1. Sometimes you have to take hard decisions, such as laying off staff. Obviously these two guys were unable to take decisions, which is unacceptable if you are a manager, so they made the right choice – to leave the company ;)

  2. Vesela:
    Both Ed Catmull & Alvy Ray Smith did not leave, and ended up leading (and in the case of Ed still lead) one of the most successful animation studios in the world.

    They protected a young & talented team from short term decimation so that it could grow into one of the biggest studios in Hollywood and win 26 Academy Awards, seven Golden Globes, and three Grammy Awards.

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