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Company Culture by Disney

January 15, 2013 6 Comments

Back in September my family took a vacation at Disney World in Florida. I had always wanted to stay at one of the Disney resorts. (Yes I am still a kid at heart). The week was a blast with all the rides, shows and way too much food. However, beyond all the activities I was captivated by the Disney culture. Walt built more than just a fun place to visit; he put together a team that built a cohesive culture. A culture so successful other companies pay Disney to teach them how to implement their style.

 

Walt and Mickey

Walt and Mickey

 

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality. – Walt Disney

 

Here are just a few of the things I learned from a week at Disney.

 

1.    Employees know the company, not just their job. – Throughout the week we often asked for directions to our favorite ride, or restaurant at another resort. It did not matter who we asked the response was never, “I don’t know.” With a smile the employee (or cast member as they are referred too) would give us detailed instructions to get us on our way.

 

2.    The Employees understood that their role was bigger than their job description. From the ride operators, to custodians that kept the park clean there was always a smile and a verbal greeting as we passed. One day a custodian at Epcot Center saw his job as something greater than just to keep the park clean. He had filled his dust pan with water and he used his broom as a paint brush. He would dip it in the water and then would draw Mickey on the concrete. It was amazing how many people stopped to watch him create his art. 

 

3.    Consistency – From the parks to the resorts the employees were very consistent in how they operated. No matter their job they always created a fun environment. One night we were browsing the shop at our resort. The clerk was driving a remote control car around the store. As were leaving, he kept driving it (gently) into the back of my son’s feet.  For him, his job was more than just running a gift shop. He saw his role to create fun. 

 

The overriding purpose was that the employees were united around and took ownership of the Disney purpose to build a place, “Where Dreams Come True.”

 

As leaders we should never forget that we are building a culture. We can leave it to chance and let grow by accident, or we can be proactive and intentional with its creation. We need to cast a vision for those we lead. Our team members need to see their roles as something greater than just their job description. Building this kind of culture is not an easy task. 

 

Now it is your turn. I would love to hear from you?

 

What kind of company or ministry culture have you worked for? What are some key ideas to build a great company culture?

 

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About the Author:

I am enthusiastic about helping others discover their purpose and grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus. It is great to see their eyes light up at their “Ah Ha!” moment when they discover they were created for something more. My hope is that this blog will help encourage and inspire you along your way. Join the conversation and take the time to share with me your own story. I have been married to my beautiful wife Janice for over 25 years. We currently live in Stockbridge Georgia with two of our children Matt and Victoria. Our oldest Chris has left the nest. Of course we cannot forget about our dog Taffy.
  • I worked for a company that had a great culture. We were small (about 15 people) but one of the leaders was incredibly positive and uplifting. Long story short, he ended up leaving and the culture left with him. The other leaders didn’t have the charisma he did and it tanked. Today the company is all but gone, I think just a couple people now.

    Leaders have a lot of power and control when it comes to company culture. And we can do the same with our blogs or businesses or churches or whatever. The more leadership qualities we can possess and use, the better the culture will be.

    Thanks for sharing your Disney experience. Never been but do intend to go someday. I know they are an awesome company that’s managed to keep the passion alive over many years.

    • Thanks Jared for taking time to comment. As guess John Maxwell’s quote, “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” proves true. Do you think there was anything the positive leader could have taught the others before his departure?

      • I think he did. I left a legacy of culture for sure. There’s no doubt that they know why they exist…that’s more than many companies can say. 😀

  • Mike Hayman

    Given that you know where I’m employed… I suspect you know the answer to both of your questions. 😛

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