October 23, 2012
Tonight we’ll finish up with a few points regarding leadership by connecting leadership to organizational culture and corporate communication.
Then we’ll spend some time on beginning our midterm review. (Yes, there will be a midterm on November 06.) One quick point regarding the midterm (and why we’re doing two weeks of review rather than just one): as part of your preparation I highly recommend that you write up a mock midterm and write out the answers. Why? Because this turns out to be an effective study method. Note: I will probably use some of the better test questions on the actual midterm.
As we mentioned briefly, organizational culture tends to emanate from the leadership of an organization or a group within that organization.
Probably the best example to start with is one of the most identifiable: Disney. Note how Disney’s organizational culture has, from the very beginning, worked hand-in-glove with its management goals and how this, in turn, directs its corporate strategy.
Walt Disney started off by doing work for other firms, but once he launched his own company, he focused on making animated films. (Does anyone know the name of the first film he made and the year he made it?) He built on this interest and expertise. He eventually struck upon a previously unheard-of innovation: to create a feature-length all-animation film. Sleeping Beauty premiered in 1931 to both critical and popular acclaim.
Disney built on this with similar films. He created a production system based on specialized skills and projects. Disney put himself at the heads of a team of animators that developed new ways of working. This group, The Nine Old Men, continue to be revered by practitioners in the field.
Disney also brought in family members to work on the business side of the company, especially his brother Roy. Note the importance of control and trust here; Roy and other executives understood that their work centered on supporting and nurturing Walt’s vision.
While animated films formed the core of this vision, Disney soon figured out that the films served a family market. By targeting this niche, he could supply other forms of entertainment beyond the films.
While a fulltime amusement park seems like a rather pedestrian business in 2012, in 1950, it seemed like a suspect idea. Disney had a very hard time finding financing for Disneyland. The project languished until the Bank of Italy – later to be renamed The Bank of America – stepped forward with the seed capital.
You probably don’t know this, but in 1950 another fulltime amusement had been successful. It’s a place called Coney Island, which is in New York City. Coney Island offers the standard carnival fare: animals, curiosities, food (especially hot dogs), and thrill rides. Disneyland differed in that it presented “themes” born out of various fantasies and stories. Some of these stories connected to Disney films and characters. This allowed Disneyland to draw audiences based on the familiarity and success of Disney films and characters, while at the same time allowing those who attended the park to have a different kind of relationship to the films and the characters and to bring this back into the Disney experience.
At about the same time, Disney observed a new form of family entertainment emerging in the United States: watching television together. As a result, he wanted to get into the TV business. However, he didn’t have the resources or expertise to by a station or to run a network. So he used his company’s expertise in creating content, curating content (choosing and displaying content in a way that showed it most effectively and forcefully for a given target audience), and from this, branding content, to package a program for a network. This program was The Wonderful World of Disney.
Through this process he learned something else: that unlike most films released in the market, that...