The Disney Way :
Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in your Company.
Article made out of the book :Capodagli, B. and L. Jackson. 1999.
The authors outline the leadership and motivational strategies that have contributed to the success of the Disney Company. They discuss practical ways to incorporate these strategies into other organizations. The Walt Disney company has 4 core concepts: Dreaming, Believing, Daring and Doing.
The Disney Company’s 10 Management Principles:
In their book titled “The Disney Way”, the authors Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson examine the leadership and motivational strategies at the Disney Company. Its founder, Walt Disney, is credited as the creative genius leading this one-time cartoon production studio to become a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry recognized worldwide. The authors, Fortune 100 consultants by trade, outline the methods they have successfully used to integrate the Disney management principles into other organizations.
The authors explain that Walt Disney was consistently guided in his work by 4 concepts: to Dream, to Believe, to Dare and to Do. These concepts have become the foundation of the 10 management principles that remain to this day at the heart of every Disney strategy, despite almost 40 years since Walt Disney’s death. Although outlined as 10 separate principles, the authors stress the importance of the collective integration and interplay of all of the principles.
“Make Everyone’s Dream Come True”. The first Disney management principle outlines the importance of allowing members of the organization to dream and develop their creative talents. The Disney Company employs hundreds of “Imagineers” whose sole purpose is to develop creative ideas. But this creative spirit is not limited to the Imagineers. The organization fosters a culture of creativity in all of its employees. This encourages participation and is credited with a decreased turnover rate as compared to the industry’s competitors.
“You Better Believe It”. The second principle examines the importance of a clear understanding of the basic beliefs and core values of the company. Product and service excellence is dependent on each employee’s understanding of the expectations and methods of prioritization.
“Never a Customer, Always a Guest”. To this day, a visitor to a Disney theme park is always referred to as a guest. Walt Disney was insistent on being able to understand the wishes and needs of his guests. He believed that guests deserve respect and honesty. The authors outline that to best examine how an organization values its clients, one only needs to evaluate how the organization deals with complains. Walt Disney felt that solving guests’ problems sparks innovation.
“All for One and One for All”. The forth principle highlights the importance of teamwork and empowerment of the employees. Teamwork is described as a method of fostering intense loyalty, enthusiasm and commitment. Because the focus at the Disney Company is to make sure that each guest has a memorable and pleasant experience, it doesn’t matter whose “job” it is to pick up a piece of trash. It becomes everyone’s responsibility. The book notes that even the former CEO, Michael Eisner, is compelled to pick up trash. Michael Eisner is also continuing in Walt Disney’s legacy in fostering empowerment among his employees. It is not uncommon for him to be touring one of Disney’s theme parks, requesting and implementing the opinions of his frontline workers.
“Share the Spotlight”. Disney management has adopted “Share the Spotlight” as its fifth principle, which outlines the importance of partnerships with other companies. Instead of utilizing a Disney group of musicians, the Philadelphia Philharmonic became a critical partner in the success of the Disney film “Fantasia”. Other large partners have included General Motors, Nestle, and Mattel. Every Disney supplier, big or small, is treated with respect. The Disney theme parks have specific reception areas for vendors to sign in, get directions, and receive coffee and use the telephone. Walt Disney felt that partnerships help expand the possibilities, although he did feel that the partnership with like-minded people was critical.
“Dare to Dare”. The sixth principle encourages risk-taking as a method of cultivating innovative ideas. Although the company’s success is a result of the risks that Walt has taken, he does stress that risks need to be calculated risks, based on solid fundamentals. For Walt, the fundamental trademark was whether the risk passed his “family entertainment” test.
“Practice, Practice, Practice”. Many of the aforementioned principles are dependent on the seventh principle, “Practice, Practice, Practice”, which outlines the importance of formal and continuous training. Employees are trained at the “Disney University”. There is one entire day of the training that is dedicated to the Disney traditions, which helps instill the company’s beliefs and core values. It is felt that newly learned skills, once reinforced with coaching, practice and recognition, will become habit. When an employee is not performing a responsibility to the expected level, the original training of the employee is reexamined.
“Make Your Elephant Fly”. The eighth principle stresses planning. The long term vision must be aligned with short term execution. Walt Disney recognized that although creativity does require space to grow, the generation of ideas is considered part of the corporate process and requires careful management. This Project Management Process facilitates communication and the holistic thinking that everyone is working for the common good.
“Capture the Magic with Storyboards”. Disney’s ninth management principle outlines the usefulness of the storyboard technique as a method to generate solutions and to enhance communication. Walt Disney is credited to have conceived “Storyboarding” which, for the cartoon industry, is an effective method to keep track of thousands of drawings necessary to achieve full animation of cartoon features. Today, the technique has spread to many areas of the organizational process. It is helpful in conceptualizing a mission statement, in the analysis of barriers and in the creation of team solutions. It breaks situations into smaller, more manageable parts and focuses group attention on specific aspects of the problem.
“Give Details Top Billing”. The tenth and final principle outlines the importance of paying attention to detail. Walt Disney was relentlessly searching for perfection and always asking how something could be improved. Nonetheless, he recognized the need to have a careful balance between the financial bottom line and the quest for perfection, otherwise details can become expensive. Paying attention to detail also means measuring results to ensure that the effort matches the outcome.
Walt Disney is truly a remarkable man, as outlined by the continued success of the organization he started in 1922. The Disney management principles have over time proven themselves true to the success of the organization. The authors of this book have outlined practical methods to make these principles equally applicable to organizations of all sectors. This book is not only interesting but useful and methodical. It is a recommended book for any manager.
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