Organization Chart on Blackboard

Building An Animation Company’s Leadership Team

I have been working on my business plan which forces me to take a look at the details of the company.  From this I have been doing a lot of thinking about my leadership team, or should I say lack of. I have for some time been wanting to bring on more people, but how do you know what would be best.  The people you have on your team is key to the success of any business, so it is a big decision.  So let me share with you my thoughts on building my leadership team.

I’m sure I’m the only one, but I have always been fascinated with the hierarchy of companies and their org charts.  In larger companies with hundreds or thousands of employees it is very important to have very clear titles and job responsibilities.  They also help everyone understand a reporting structure which is increasingly important as a company grows, and adds more people.  In a smaller company the reporting structure might not be as complex as The Walt Disney Co, but it is still important for everyone to have a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities in the organization.  It also helps your clients understand the structure of your business.  When you start a company on your own you have to wear all the hats of the organization.  If the company is doing well you may have to bring additional on additional people to split up the responsibilities.  Bringing on the right people to fill the role of that initial leadership team is vital, and is what makes or breaks your company.  Who you bring on also help to define the culture of your company.

apple_org_chart_large11If you look at a org chart for a corporation you will notice that everything is very departmentalized based on functions and responsibilities.  For example look at the org chart of Apple Computers from when Steve Jobs was CEO.   As a smaller company it does not make sense to be so departmentalized.  Instead fewer people take on more functions and responsibilities.  You might be wondering what the ideal number of people you should start with, or what tasks each of them take.

I found a theory of the 3 types of people you need for a startup, that I found interesting.  It is hard to track down who originally stated this, since different resources credit different people, so I apologize not giving the proper credit.  I also believe this was geared more towards tech startups, but it could also work for an animation company.  After all technology is a huge part in the production of CG animation.

According to this theory the 3 ideal people to start a company is The Hustler, The Designer, and The Hacker.  The Hustler has the grand vision, but also have their feet firmly on the ground.  They figure out how to make a good idea into a successful business. The Designer or sometimes referred to as the Hipster is the creative genius.  They make the product or service look good, and make it cool.  The Hacker is your programmer, and MacGyver of the group.  They build the ship, and make sure it keeps running at peak performance. If you take a look at the early days of Pixar you can easily point out these 3 types of leaders.  The Hustler being Steve Jobs, the Designer being John Lasseter, and the Hacker was Ed Catmull.

So how can this help me with designing my dream team?  I don’t think there is one secret formula for what makes the perfect team.  The truth is that it all comes down to the specific needs of the company, and what makes the most sense for their unique situation.  If you look at my current responsibilities in the company they would include, visionary, creator, marketing, sales, communications, technology, and finance.  As my company grows I think of who I should bring on board to help take the company to the next level.  The first person I would like to bring on would be a creative director.  Someone that is a creative powerhouse in story, animation, and design that can lead the company creatively.  With cg animation being very technical they would also need to be very tech savvy with a understanding of the pipeline and animation tools.

Additionally I would hire a tech consulting firm to help with additional technology needs we may have.  With the help of my CPA I fee I have a pretty good handle on the financial needs. I feel that covers a lot of the major needs of the company for right now.  The next team leader I would bring on board would help with marketing, sales, and other business admin functions.  Their main focus would be on the marketing and sales to help bring in more clients.

I will be starting a search for these key players to help me with the company.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions, or feel you might be a good fit yourself.

 

If you have not already, please join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  Also, if you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

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3 thoughts on “Building An Animation Company’s Leadership Team

  1. Hi Eric;

    Reading through you latest blog re: your company organization I wanted to pass along some comments.

    When it comes to hiring s Sales Manager you basically have two choices with pluses and minuses for each.

    1. Hire an experienced sales person who is familiar with and has worked in your industry. The upside is that the person may have a contact list of potential clients. The downside is, that person may have habits that may not be a fir for your organization.

    2. You can hire someone outside of the industry without a lot of experience who will better fiot your way of doing things. The downside is that the learning curve may be longer than you can tolerate.

    Beforehand you need to develop your sales process and your management process in order to write a clear and specific job description. There is nothing more unsettling to a new employee that to find out that the job he or she just took is either not what they expected or what was spelled out in the job description.

    Call me if you would like to discuss further .

    Roger

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