Innovation Blog

SHREK and Innovation:

Are you bringing your “A” game?

By Shlomo Maital


James Lipton and his Actor’s Studio have brought a remarkable series of in-depth interviews to television, interviewing virtually every major actor and actress, to understand the creative process inherent in their craft.   The audience is composed of Actors’ Studio students, who have the chance to ask the celebrities questions.  I love watching these interviews, because the creative styles of great actors and actresses are so diverse, proving that effective creativity machines must be carefully tailored to individual personalities, histories and preferences.

A recent guest was Canadian Mike Myers, of Austin Powers fame (“Mojo”).   Myers is the voice of Shrek, the ogre, now appearing in Shrek III.   He told a small story that I believe is revealing for innovators.

Originally, he completed the entire Shrek sound track, as Shrek’s voice, using a Canadian accent.

He then reflected, and decided that it would be more appropriate for Shrek to have a Scottish accent (which Myers can do perfectly).  Why?  Well, the Scots are a nation of a great many ups and downs.  Shrek too has ups and downs.  Better to make him a Scot.

He contacted the producer Steven Spielberg,  and without fear said he wanted to re-record the sound track — at huge cost.  Most producers, 99/100, would have said, forget it.  Good enough.  But good enough is not good enough for creative people.  Spielberg said, sure.  So he invested in Myers’ new Scottish accent.  I think this was crucial for Shrek’s success.  It made this animated ogre much more believable and human. (In general — have you noticed that sometimes animated characters are far more real than the one-dimensional stupid stereotyped characters Hollywood produces, in movies?).

Later, before the movie became a success, Spielberg wrote Myers a letter.  It wasn’t:  Damn, you cost me!  You cost us!   Instead it was simply,  “Mike, thank you for caring”.

“People pay you a lot of money,”  Myers says, referring to Hollywood actors.  “So you better bring you’re A-game.  You better respect your audience.”

This applies to innovators.  Bringing people anything less than the very best you can offer is a mark of disrespect to your clients.   Remember Mike Myers’ Scottish accent.  If you have to, re-do your development work, re-do your product’s design, packaging, everything.   Anything less is a B-game, and dishonors your clients.