"The Intersection of Growth Loops and Zootopia: A Tale of Sustainable Growth and Overcoming Discrimination"


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Sep 01, 2023

4 min read


"The Intersection of Growth Loops and Zootopia: A Tale of Sustainable Growth and Overcoming Discrimination"


In the world of animation, Disney movies have always captivated audiences with their talking animals and anthropomorphic characters. However, the film "Zootopia" stands out not only for its unique storytelling but also for its underlying theme of discrimination. This article aims to explore the production history of "Zootopia" and delve into the concept of growth loops as a means to achieve sustainable growth, drawing parallels between these two seemingly unrelated topics.

The Journey of "Zootopia":

John Lasseter, a Disney enthusiast, was drawn to the idea of creating an animated film where animals talk, walk on two legs, and don human clothing. However, aside from the remake of "Winnie the Pooh," such a film had not been made by Disney since "Chicken Little" in 2005. Lasseter made a comeback to Disney in 2006, marking the absence of his signature "talking animals" concept until "Zootopia" came into the picture. The film's credits include three directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and co-director Jared Bush, which is not an uncommon phenomenon in the world of animated movies. While Lasseter undoubtedly had a significant influence as the creative director, the collaborative effort behind "Zootopia" was evident.

The Power of Research:

Before diving into the production process, the creators of "Zootopia" conducted extensive research, uncovering an intriguing ratio: 90% of mammals are prey, while only 10% are predators. This discovery served as a foundation for exploring the dynamics of majority and minority relationships, providing fertile ground for a diverse range of stories to emerge. By using this information in the film, the creators aimed to address the theme of discrimination, emphasizing the importance of understanding and embracing differences.

The Unstoppable Train:

With voice actors and staff assigned, "Zootopia" transformed into an unstoppable train hurtling towards its release date in March 2016. As the pressure mounted for Disney to uphold its reputation, the deadline became non-negotiable. The point of no return had been reached, leaving no room for second thoughts or alterations. This was the mindset shared by everyone involved in the project.

A Game-Changing Revelation:

In November 2013, a pivotal moment occurred during a screening with Pixar personnel. Andrew Stanton, a prominent figure at Pixar, expressed his dissatisfaction with the world depicted in "Zootopia" and its treatment of the character Nick, who experiences harsh discrimination. Stanton's poignant statement questioned who would want to live in a world that made Nick's life so difficult. This revelation highlighted the importance of addressing discrimination and sparked a reevaluation of the film's message.

The Transition to Growth Loops:

In the realm of business and product development, the concept of growth funnels has long been the go-to framework for understanding and achieving growth. However, growth funnels lack the ability to reinvest the output to generate more inputs, resulting in a continuous need for external resources. Recognizing this limitation, the concept of growth loops emerged as a more sustainable approach. In contrast to funnels, loops are closed systems where the output from one cycle is reinvested in the next to generate compounding growth. By applying the principles of growth loops to "Zootopia," we can see how the film's theme of discrimination led to a self-sustaining narrative that resonated with audiences.

The Power of Loops:

In the context of product growth, the most successful products are often powered by one or two major loops that evolve over time. Understanding and measuring the health of these loops is crucial for determining where to focus resources. Loops combine various elements, such as the product itself, the distribution channels, and the monetization model, into a single system. This holistic approach makes it more challenging for competitors to replicate the success.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace Diversity: Just like "Zootopia" leveraged the diversity of mammals to create compelling stories, businesses should embrace diversity in their teams and products. This inclusivity fosters innovation and opens doors to new perspectives and ideas.
  • 2. Reinvest and Iterate: Instead of relying solely on external resources, businesses should focus on reinvesting the output of their growth cycles into the next iteration. This compounding effect leads to sustainable growth and reduces the need for constant external inputs.
  • 3. Measure and Optimize: Understanding the power and health of growth loops is essential for achieving sustainable growth. By measuring key metrics and continuously optimizing the loops, businesses can identify areas for improvement and capitalize on their strengths.


"Zootopia" serves as a unique example of how the theme of discrimination intersected with the concept of growth loops, creating a film that not only entertained but also conveyed a powerful message. By incorporating the principles of growth loops into our own endeavors, we can strive for sustainable growth while fostering inclusivity and embracing diversity. Through reinvestment, iteration, and optimization, we can build products and companies that resonate with audiences and leave a lasting impact.

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