Disney's Pixar's Greatest Tool & How to Use It: The Blue Sky
Disney’s Pixar is one of the greatest, most excellent film companies in the world. Their attention to detail and intense focus on wholesome story has provided us with some of the greatest movies of our lifetime. Everyone everywhere has watched or at least heard of movies like Toy Story, The Incredibles, Cars, Up, and Monster’s Inc. (just to name a few). These movies are iconic in our culture, and dozens of other studios are trying to copy Pixar’s movie style, attention to detail, and wholesome storytelling.
Since I’m a huge Disney and Pixar fan, I’ve done a ton of research on Pixar and how they make their movies so excellently. I can’t help but want to learn their secrets and apply them to my own life! So, today, I want to share with you one of the most powerful, constructive, and revolutionary tools that Pixar has ever developed. It’s not a computer program, business model, or story-line tool. It’s much bigger and much more significant than any other tool other companies have used, and, if applied to your business or work, could completely change how you operate and achieve success.
Before I share this tool with you, I want to point you to a common symbolic theme found in Pixar’s top movie, Toy Story. If you grew up watching Toy Story, you’ve probably dreamed of owning a room like Andy’s with wallpaper that displays this iconic blue sky with minimal cloud debris. There’s something about the clear, open blue skies that evoke a sense of adventure, freedom, and creativity.
Pixar didn’t wallpaper Andy’s room with these blue skies because of the beauty. You may not know this, but they actually placed these blue skies at the forefront of their film to showcase their greatest tool that has led to their increasing success: The Blue Sky.
Are we talking about an actual blue sky? Well, no. The blue sky in Toy Story is simply a symbolic representation of a creative tool model called The Blue Sky.
What is Blue Sky?
Blue Sky is a creative story construct tool that has one goal: dream without any obstacles. When you take away all constraints and let your dreams run wild, you experience the best possible freedom. This freedom allows you to look at everything without a filter. Often, we limit our ideas because of obstacles like:
Fear of failure
And that’s just to name a few. These things can hinder us from taking crucial steps to lead us toward a successful idea in any area of our life.
See why they call it Blue Sky? When you let your dreams float above the clouds, in a blue sky, there’s no limit to what you can dream or imagine!
How does it work?
I’ve used Blue Sky on multiple volunteer and staff meetings. It’s proven to move our team past obstacles that would hinder our growth. Below, I’ve outlined how to use Blue Sky. Let me note: you can use this within any business, any organization, and any relationship. My wife and I have blue-skied some of our date ideas!
First, I recommend using a dry-erase board and write in blue marker, “Blue Sky.” This provides a blank canvas that takes the concept of Blue Sky and makes it physical. Now,
Determine a focus point
In other words, what is your team blue-skying? What problem needs solved, program needs fixed, or idea needs refreshed? Set a clear focus point with your team, and cast it up into your Blue Sky.
Inform everyone: no idea is a bad idea, and no idea can be met with criticism.
Since we’re naturally critical, it’s easy to laugh at or judge an idea. But Blue Sky won’t work with open criticism. Give each team member the responsibility of reminding critics that it’s not the time or place to criticize or judge an idea. Let ideas run freely!
Set the limits (or rather, communicate there are no limits!)
The limits are simple: there are none. Money doesn’t matter, time doesn’t matter, resources don't matter. The best way to help your team enter Blue Sky is to ask, “If money, time, man-power, culture, reputation (etc.) were not an issue, how can we [enter your focus point].”
Allow 10-15 minutes of Blue Sky
Put a time limit so you don’t hit a wall!
Now it’s time to sort through the ideas
At this point, your team is probably really energized! It’s time to face reality, and pick only the best ideas. Note: don’t focus on the bad ideas, focus only on the good ideas that you’ll take to the final round of Blue Sky.
The final round
This is where your team decides which of these ideas will actually work, and ones you can bring into reality. It’s important that you don’t let too many obstacles keep you from moving forward. Pick your best ideas, write them down, and leave them for a while.
Let it sit.
Blue Sky isn’t over. Now it’s time to let your ideas sit, and come back to them in a week or two. This allows the ideas to get grounded in reality for all your team members.
Bring it back, and restart.
This is where the cycle continues. First, remind your team of the ideas you came up with from the last Blue Sky session. Discuss them for a time, and then launch back into Blue Sky with your new idea. This provides your team with the ability to take this new idea even further.
Now do you see why Pixar used the blue sky wallpaper in Toy Story? It’s a fascinating, obstacle-ridding, creative process that allowed them to dream and execute the greatest film their studio ever created!
If you’re wondering if Blue Sky really works, watch any of Pixar’s films. The excellence and originality behind each of their films is all thanks to their greatest tool: Blue Sky.
Need a space to dream? Consider using Blue Sky. Walt Disney said it best when he wrote, "All dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
Until next time, to boardwalk and beyond!