The Disney Way

Posted by Lee Yarborough on 6/30/16 4:00 PM
Lee Yarborough
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Posted on: June 30, 2016

For Christmas, we took our girls on a Disney cruise. If you have ever been on a Disney Cruise or anything Disney related, then you know that it was top-notch. When I wasn't seeing Mickey, snorkeling, or just relaxing by the pool, I couldn't help but think of the business of Disney. A few years ago, I read The Disney Way: Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in Your Company by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson. As I looked around the ship and interacted with the "team" members, I was reminded of this book and the deliberate business model behind Disney. Walt Disney's original philosophy and vision is still evident in all things Disney. Dream. Believe. Dare. Do. These four words are the pillars behind Disney's success and can help all business leaders.


  • Encourage all employees, regardless of job title, to dream in a structured way in order to solve problems and develop solutions.
  • Hold off-site retreats to plan and strategize.


  • Formalize your company's mission and values and use as a training tool all employees. Every employee attends Disney University to learn about Walt's vision. As you walk through a Disney park, you can feel the difference.
  • Use the core values as a guide when evaluating all business decisions.
  • Reinforce the company's vision and values on a regular basis through companywide meetings.


  • Allow employees the opportunity to develop innovative ideas and reward this behavior.
  • Spend time evaluating failures to help plan for future projects.
  • Use multifunctional teams to evaluate processes. For example, when Disney evaluated new attractions, even the custodian was brought in to provide valuable feedback.


  • Treat your customers like guests.
  • Expect perfection and plan out all details before execution.
  • Go the extra mile. Disney does such a great job with this that their guests don't mind paying extra for the experience.

Walt Disney died before Disney World in Florida opened. Yet if he were alive today, he would see that his core beliefs are still the driving force of the Walt Disney Company. As business leaders, we all need to take more time to dream; inspire our team to believe; take risks and dare to be unique; and pay attention to the details in order to do what is necessary for success. In essence, channel your Inner-Mickey!

Topics: Leadership

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