But just bringing in people with bold, even threatening, ideas isn't enough; Catmull says you also have to give them the freedom and support to pursue their vision. For Bird and The Incredibles, that meant agreeing to make Pixar's most ambitious movie to date. All of its previous films have featured nonhumans - monsters, ants, toys, and fish - as the main characters. The Incredibles features an all-human cast, a daunting, never-done-before task in computer generated animation, particularly when it comes to depicting hair and clothing. "We had hair underwater, we had hair in the wind, we had cloth in the wind, we had cloth being grabbed, we had fire and water, and this film is all over the place," says Bird. "It is easily the largest movie Pixar has ever done, and probably insane."

If Ed Catmull is worried about this potentially risky, high-stakes new movie, he hides it well. Sitting in his office off the main atrium of Pixar's headquarters, Catmull, who is as low-key as Bird is animated, talks assuredly about what he sees as the most important element in having a creative, innovative company: the right people. "Give a great idea to a mediocre team and they'll screw it up," he says. "Give a mediocre idea to a great team and they'll modify it and make it great."

>>get creative
looking for ways to boost the creative dna of your company? well, who isn't? american way spoke to a number of innovation experts to get their advice.

>>it starts at the top creating a culture of innovation requires leadership, says nicholas evans, author of business innovation and disruptive technology, and head of the emerging technology business at the consultancy bearingpoint. executive sponsorship makes it a priority in a way nothing else can. "i think it's critical because the company has to recognize the strategic significance [of innovation]," he says. "it's an investment in the future of the company."