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Frozen’s secret to success? A collaborative team!

7th April 2015

5 Top Tips for building a successful team

Almost everyone works as part of a team.

Working together in a team doesn’t always come naturally. However, when people do truly work together as one team rather than as a group of individuals, the results are so much better.

The same can be said for Walt Disney Animation Studios after its acquisition of Pixar nine years ago.  As a result of this, the Walt Disney Animation Studio rediscovered the hit-making formula with support from Andrew Millstein, President of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Millstein realised that in order to recover and retain the Disney legacy, it was vital for the company to learn how to extract and apply Pixar’s successful approach to film making.

As a consequence of seeing and understanding Pixar’s recipe for success, Disney subsequently adapted and improved its own approach by empowering its creative leaders, so that the writers, producers and heads of story would now be responsible for driving the creative process. This was in contrast to an executive-led film studio where key executives are often seen as controlling a film’s direction.

And the result of a collaborative team? Frozen! The 2013 movie is the highest grossing animated film so far, grossing over $1.2 billion cinemas and there’s plans for a sequel.

But even if you don’t work for Walt Disney Animation Studios or Pixar, here are 5 things that you can do to build a successful team:-

  1. Involve people in Decision Making

Involve people in decisions that affect them and adopt a democratic leadership style that engages team members and encourages team goals.


A participative approach encourages people to take responsibility rather than simply take orders.

This will enable the team to become better than the sum of its parts and evolve over time.

“My job is to make images and leave the decision-making and conclusion-drawing to other people (Laurie Anderson).

  1. Value diversity

Encourage a variety of experience and backgrounds in the team.

Allow people to challenge you and be open to hearing different perspectives. This will lead to a diversity of viewpoints which in turn will lead to better decision-making, problem solving and innovation.

All great teams are built upon a diversity of strengths and similarity of spirit.

  1. Define roles and responsibilities

Each team member must clearly understand what they must do (and what they must NOT do) and how they fit into the big picture.

When people don’t understand the impact of their roles on others, they start working in silos.

Successful teams understand how each and every person adds value.

  1. Build a positive atmosphere

Create an overall team culture that’s open, transparent, positive, future-focused and able to deliver success.

A team’s culture is found in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

Of course this doesn’t magically happen overnight. It requires a team leader to consistently recognise, reinforce and reward the actions that lead to team success.

Aim for a ‘no blame’ culture. Take a forward-looking view on problems, rather than trying to point the finger of blame. This goes a long way to encouraging openness.

  1. Encourage friendships

The bonds between team members allow them to anticipate each other’s needs and seamlessly coordinate their work to achieve both efficiency and success.

As long as team focus isn’t lost, informal relationships at work should be encouraged.


Want to read the rest of the Top Tips on Building a Successful Team?

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