The Disney Secrets to Performance Excellence
Nov 07, 2017
If your client's aspire to create a company of the caliber and quality of Disney but lack the resources and magic of the Disney brand, don’t worry. The secret of Disney’s success lies less in its creativity and more in its strategy.
I’ll never forget the moment of joy and accomplishment when I was hired as an internal consultant at Walt Disney World back in 1999. It feels like yesterday when I was walking out of Team Disney with my offer and the potential to work for arguably one of the most premier companies in the world.
During my first few weeks, I began to fully appreciate why I, along with my 20 other teammates were hired and what we were there to do. A few years prior, the company engaged on one of the most massive (and successful) culture changes I had ever witnessed.
This initiative which became know as Performance Excellence, was led by visionary change leader who knew that the company’s formula of success which only focused on the guest wasn’t going to create lasting value. The lasting value was to balance guest satisfaction alongside other organizational components: leadership excellence, employee performance AND business results.
My team was responsible for supporting the executives in initiating and implementing growth initiatives and day-to-day improvements that balanced all critical success factors that created for a holistic standard of success.
What I find interesting now in my private practice of helping other organizations is that they lament that although they would like to emulate Disney but can’t because they don’t have an emotional brand and core purpose like Disney or the resources. But what they don’t realize is that what made and makes Disney great is the intentional nature of how the executives operate and how transferable those principles are to companies of all sizes and industries.
If your clients want to achieve the Disney level of performance excellence, here’s 10 things you can help implement right now that will take their team from good to great or great to even greater:
- Pay equal attention to HOW works gets accomplished along with WHAT gets accomplished. The results you create matter but not as much as how the team works together to create those results.
- Position the achievement of today’s results in the context of tomorrow’s long-term results. If you want to be a business that lasts, you have to make decisions and invest towards that end.
- Ensure that all decisions are balanced and take into account all dimensions of what makes a business successful. There is no such thing as a sales, customer or efficiency driven company as all are attributes, not definitions of success. Instead make sure that leaders and employees at all levels make decisions through the filter of satisfying the Customer, Employees AND Business Results.
- Hire the best of the best…not the best available. I get that the war for talent is intense and that you may not unlimited dollars for hiring. But you get what you pay for and the facts are paying top dollar for top talent is cheaper in the long-run.
- Specialize and partner vs. jack of all trades/master of none. One of the key ingredients for our high performance at Disney is that we had very specialized disciplines with people who were world-class experts in those disciplines. AND those people were expected to partner. Do this and you’ll see world quality and innovation quickly improve.
- Executive leadership is a discipline within itself that supersedes business lines. The best way to develop executives is to move them around. The best way to grow each business unit is to move the executives around.
- Training alone will never be sufficient to create top performance. Bridging knowledge and skill gaps is one of many things you need to enhance individual performance. The other things you will need are clear performance expectations, an empowering/supportive work environment and aligned metrics and rewards.
- The little extras are always what makes the biggest difference. Former Disney EVP and Author Lee Cockerell explains it this way, “Everybody at Disney matters, and they know they matter…If we can do those simple things, results turn out pretty good. And any company can do that.”
- Strategic insight rules. Find out what matters most to your customers and employees and focus on delivering those things.
- You don’t need a compelling brand like Disney, but it doesn’t hurt. People need to have a reason that is bigger than them or money alone to have the heart motivation to go above and beyond.