What matters most: people or ideas? - Greg Orme

What matters most: people or ideas?

To be innovative in business what matters more: people or ideas? This seems like one of those insoluble chicken-and-egg question, but it’s not.

People matter far more than ideas.

Pixar President Ed Catmull learned this simple but powerful lesson during the painful birth of Toy Story 2. He’d assigned an inexperienced “B-Team” to producing the Toy Story sequel because he figured making a hit would be easier the second time around. Half way through the production it dawned on Catmull he’d made a huge error – and he had a complete disaster on his hands.

Radical action was required.

For the first time in the company’s history Catmull removed directors from the movie in the middle of a production. He placed his trust – and the failing movie – in the hands of Pixar’s “Brains Trust” – the most talented team in the business which included legendary director John Lasseter.

The Brains Trust made important changes to the story, and the rest is history.Toy Story 2 became one of the few sequels in cinematic history to outshine the original and took $500m at the box office.

In his book Creativity Inc. Catmull sums up the lesson for leaders everywhere:

“If you give a good idea to a mediocre team they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.”

If you want your business to be consistently innovative don’t focus on great ideas, focus on forming your best people high-performing teams with the right chemistry.

Ideas come from people. Therefore people are always more important than ideas.

If you like this try my book ‘The Spark: How to Ignite and Lead Business Creativity’ (FT Publishing)  available on Amazon.


Falsehood flies


Lies outperform the truth on every subject: business, terrorism, war, science, technology, and entertainment. Also, of course politics where its influence is most insidious; most recently in 2016 US Presidential election the UK’s Brexit Referendum. A recent study of voters in India showed those locked in a filter bubble were 12 per cent more like to vote for the candidate featured.[4] Easily enough to decide an election. The 17th century satirist Jonathan Swift wrote “falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it”. Lies are now on digital steroids.

Here are three simple questions to help burst your filter bubble:

  1. Where is your information coming from?
  2. How can you pierce your filter bubble with more challenging and diverse sources of information?
  3. What are the verifiable sources of your new knowledge? Like a journalist, can you establish the credibility of the content?

Is there a way to find another more dependable source?

In an uncertain world it’s wise to constantly question information you ‘find’ to avoid living in a self-perpetuating delusion. You’ll need heightened critical thinking skills to cope with this misleading mediascape. Our hard-wired human bias work against us, and makes intellectual isolation more likely. Without curious questions, you become more what you already are, not what you might be.


This blog is adapted from my second book The Human Edge: How curiosity and creativity are your superpowers in the digital economy (Pearson, 2019) which won Business Book of The Year 2020, purchase your copy a copy here.

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All right reserved Copyright © 2019 Greg Orme


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