“Once upon a time”, now a statement that for most will never be forgotten has been engrained into our minds from the many famous Walt Disney films, books, etc. It’s hard to believe that at many points during Walt Disney’s amazing adventure and life his career path was questioned. According to Gabler (2006) from Walt Disney’s biography, Elias Disney (Walt’s Father) thought his son was the black sheep and constantly questioned that he was going to make a career out of being an artist (Gabler, 2006, p. 41). Walt’s career is blanketed with many successes, but his first position with the Kansas City Film Ad Company was anything but successful as the company filed for bankruptcy.
According to www.disney.go.com/vault, the many successes of Disney include creating 81 movies in his lifetime, earning more than 950 honors and citations from all over the world, being rewarded honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, University of Southern California, and University of California Los Angeles, and also building Disneyland and Walt Disney World and the amusement park empire along with so many other awards and accolades. Although these successes are wonderful to read about, the leadership qualities and overall vision of Walt Disney is what this research will focus on. The “Dream. Believe. Dare. Do” philosophy that Capodagli and Jackson discuss throughout their book captures the essence and vision of Walt Disney. This paper will focus on this philosophy as well as the other areas to Disney’s leadership methodology.
When looking at the attributes that make Disney such as success, it is very tough not to look back at his childhood. Disney’s imagination and ability to “play” were imminent at a very young age. As Gabler (2006) discusses in the first chapter of his biography, Walt was very much the polar opposite of his father. He loved to play pranks and dress up in costumes (Gabler, 2006). His drawings and cartoons were often just an opportunity for him to get away from the struggles that his family many times endured.
As stated above, the 10 concepts of Disney’s methodology are going to be the main topics discussed in the paper. These concepts include:
1. Give every member of organization a chance to dream, and tap into the creativity those dreams embody. 2. Stand firm on your beliefs and principles.
3. Treat your customers like guests.
4. Support, empower, and reward employees.
5. Build long-term relationships with key suppliers and partners. 6. Dare to take calculated risks in order to bring innovative ideas to fruition. 7. Train extensively and constantly reinforce the company’s culture. 8. Align long-term vision with short-term execution.
9. Use the storyboarding technique to solve planning and communication problems. 10. Play close attention to detail (Capodagli & Jackson, 2007 ,p. 10).
As these concepts are captured throughout the vision that Disney created, this paper will narrowly focus on half of these concepts and give a better understanding of the leader that Walt Disney was.
The first concept that was chosen to speak about involved the first concept from Disney of giving your employees a chance to dream. As discussed in Global Leadership – The Next Generation, the topic of empowering people is one of great importance even more so in today’s workforce. Today’s workers want influence on decisions that affect the way their expertise is used (Goldsmith, Greenberg, Robertson, & Hu-Chan, 2003, p. 157). They want to be treated as “partners” rather than as employees, with information and opinion flowing up as well as down (Goldsmith et al., 2003, p. 157). This can easily be seen in the techniques of Disney. “In the early days, when the Walt Disney Company was small, Walt used to call his five or six animators into his office to discuss an idea for a new film project. In short order he would get them involved and stimulate the excitement and...