Business Week has a story on how Walt Disney Animation Studios has begun to adopt the ways of Pixar Studios. Of course, those are really closer to Walt Disney’s animation methods than Disney has been in a long while.
In short, if you’ll pardon the pun, the system involves letting new directors cut their teeth on short subject animation before granting them a feature length film to helm. Passion for the subject also plays a key part. Ed Catmull and John Lasseter can then mold each director and story to their liking. (Link)