The Disney Way: A book review by Bob Morris

51rtqb9blsL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Disney Way: Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in Your Company (Third Edition)
Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson
McGraw-Hill (April 2016)

The “magic” of values-driven, customer-centric, high-impact management

This is the updated and expanded Third Edition of a book first published in 2007. What’s new in this edition? According to Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson, they feature organizations “that are predominantly in start-up mode or have revamped their strategies to become more customer-centric. The lineup includes six entities that have recently launched their businesses or have reinvented their cultures…There are also three well-established organizations that are striving to continuously to improve…[and others] that demonstrate how [the Walt Disney Company’s] Dream, Believe, Dare, Do Principles apply in a small community business. And, finally, how Ottawa County, Michigan, one of the most progressive state administrative divisions in the United States, has used each element of the Disney Way as a starting point to create an amazing culture over a period of three years.” Chapters 12-14 are brand new.

I recently re-read Neal Gabler’s biography of Walt Disney and then as I began to read this Third Edition I was again reminded of an incident years ago when one of Albert Einstein’s Princeton colleagues gently chided him for asking the same questions every year on his final examinations. “Quite true. Guilty as charged. Every year the answers are different.” Fifty years after Walt Disney’s death, the Dream, Believe, Dare, Do Principles remain relevant and instructive to leaders in almost any company — whatever its size and nature may be. However, the nature and extent of applying those principles have changed significantly in a global marketplace that has become more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can remember.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Capodagli and Jackson’s coverage:

o Innovation (Page 6-7, 36-40, and 137-139)
o Dream Retreats: Sparking Teamwork and Creativity (20-22)
o Good versus poor service (54-58)
o “Good show”: mentality (57-58 and 109-110)
o Engagement with customers (60-61 and 218-219
o Millennial generation (88-89)
o Oswald the Rabbit and Mickey Mouse (102-103 and 106-107)
o Tyra Banks (114-121)
o Rethinking Human Responses (132-134)
o Habits Required in a Customer-Centric Culture (150-153)
o Capture the Magic with Storyboards (179-181)
o Solving the Communications Dilemma (188-190)
o The Six Types of Storyboards (193-199)
o A Relentless Search for Perfection (204-206)
o Measuring for Success (208-210)
o Twenty-Seven Ways to Unleash Love in Your Organization (227-229)
o Examples of Outstanding Customer Service Award Winners (248-252)
o Customer Centric Culture: The Disney Way Experience (255-261)
o The History of Leadership at the Walt Disney Company (265-267)

For those who have not read either of the previous editions of The Disney Way, Capodagli and Jackson provide an abundance of information and insights that trace the development of a truly unique organization as well as the development of its visionary founder and his business philosophy whose “magic” endures because of values-driven, customer-centric, high-impact management. By now there are few (if any) “secrets” to be discovered. The challenge is to complete a reality check on your organization. For better or worse, what differentiates it from its competition? Strengths? Vulnerabilities? And what is (what really is) worker — “cast member” — morale at all levels and in all areas of its operations? Most important of all, does it have a culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive? Are its customers — “guests” — evangelists?

To enrich your reality check, check out these micro-profiles of the organizations that Capodagli and Jackson feature:

o zTailors: A Dreamer Who Never Gives Up (Pages 25-27)
o ACTS Retirement Life Communities: A Culture of Loving-Kindness (46-50)
o Flanagan’s Bulk Mail Service: An Experience That Transcends Service (71-73)
o Grand Lake, Colorado: Elevate — A Team Initiative (96-98)
o TYRA Beauty: Inspired by a Legend (114-121)
o University Hospitals, Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital: Breaking Through: An Innovative Work Force That Saves Lives (137-139)
o California State university Channel Islands (CI): Training for Success: A Unique University Focus (158-161)
o Joe C. Davis YMCA, Outdoor Center/Camp Widjiwagan: Planning a “Kids and Guests First” Customer-Centric Culture (173-176)
o McLean County, Illinois, Unit (School) District No. 5: A Superintendent Brings the Disney Way to Public Schools (199-200)
o Science Center of Iowa: Bringing the Visitor Experience to Life (211-214)
o A Personal Story from Bill: What He Learned About Love from His Mother (224-227)

My guess (only a guess) is that each reader who checks out these micro profiles will gain at least 3-5 invaluable lessons (if not more) that can be applied to their organization immediately. And add to that number the valuable lessons to be found in other material throughout the lively narrative.

Presumably Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson agree with me that, if it were possible to have Walt Disney speak directly to those who read this book, he would say something like this: “Make the Disney Way your way. Don’t copy what we do. Do it better! Dream BIG. If you can dream it, you can do it! Perfection really is a journey, not a destination. Always remember, success depends on Dreaming, Believing, and Daring, but it also depends on Doing!”

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