It’s a rather quaint title borrowed from a book that happens to be required reading this semester:
Long story short, it is a fable of instigating change within an organisation filled with bodies that are quite resistant to change, until they are convinced otherwise. The lesson at the end is that the penguins, having been convinced to leave their established, unsafe iceberg, must now adapt to the annual moves necessary to sustain their colony. The key lesson is that it is hard to instigate the change and it takes effort to establish it in the routines of normal people (or in this case, penguins.)
And this has what to do with animation?
Well, it actually has a lot to do with animation. Studios are organisations and often they must adapt to change or instigate it themselves in order to survive into the future.
Walt Disney faced this challenge when he moved his facilities from Hyperion Avenue over the hill to Burbank. The top down nature of the move resulted in some grumbling and, in a way, led ultimately to the strike of 1941.
Such dramatic moves are rare within the industry, but change occurs frequently on a smaller scale. Leading the change within organisations often falls to managers and executives, but how many of them are effective in their leadership?
Consider the recent controversy surrounding Merida and her ill-advised transformation for her ‘coronation’. Such change seemingly emanated from the Disney organisation and when it was not well received, there was nary a leader in sight to apologise or announce the change back to the CGI model. What does it say about Disney that not a single person too charge of the brouhaha?
Could you easily say that studios today lack effective leadership when it comes to change? Are they managing the (undoubtedly) negative perceptions that recent layoffs have had? How could they turn such negative vibes into positive ones? It’s not impossible. There are examples of companies instigating layoffs that resulted in workers that were actually happy to leave and go on to bigger and better things.
So who is the animated leader in the United States today? Who is the one man/woman who is instigating and leading change within the industry? Who sees the need for the necessary changes that the industry and studios within it will have to undertake in the coming months and years?
Can you name them?