While this environment might seem to simply be the natural domain of a bunch of artists run amok, the reality is that everything, including the company's workspace, is calculated to squeeze every last shred of creativity and innovation out of Pixar employees. Calculated creativity might sound like an oxymoron, but ask most innovation experts and you'll get the same answer: Innovation, particularly in business, is the result of design. "Creativity is the result of ritual and routine," says Patricia Ryan Madson, who teaches drama at Stanford University and is often called upon by corporations to help boost innovation. "My experience is that creativity is not random wildness at all. Truly creative companies are disciplined, and understand that creativity requires a stable crucible in which to happen."

If nothing else, Pixar, which was cofounded by Apple Computer's Steve Jobs in 1986, is serious about creativity. Take the office space, for example: The open, inviting common area in the building's main atrium is meant to lure people out of their offices to interact with colleagues from all facets of the company. "Anybody needs to be able to talk to anybody else. Creativity doesn't follow titles, it just comes from where it comes from," says Pixar's president, Ed Catmull. "You'll make chance encounters. You don't have to arrange to see somebody. You'll cross them in the hall, stop and have a discussion, talk about something you haven't had time to talk about, and that can change the course of things."

Skeptical? Well, Pixar has been doing something right. The five feature films they've made, including the first Toy Story, where they pioneered the use of computer generated graphics, have brought in $2.6 billion at the box office, not including DVDs and merchandising. Those movies, along with the short films they've made, have been critically successful enough to fill a trophy case with 16 Oscars. Along the way, Pixar has also picked up 42 patents for various technical innovations.