Disney Management Style

Disney is a multi-trillion dollar company and for good reason. Starting as a humble animation studio and ballooning into a world renown icon Disney has continued to progress both within its medium and as a company. With thousands of intellectual properties in its portfolio Disney remains a power house in the entertainment industry. And like any major conglomerate it is run very much like any other large corporation. However, Disney has various unique aspects to its management style. Let’s explore these in further detail below.

Leadership Style

There are many different kinds of leadership styles both within and out of a business setting. One of these styles is the participatory leadership style. In this particular form of leadership one person or group of people are responsible for the section or group that works underneath them. While they are responsible for those working for them they seek input on most if not all decisions they make from those that they oversee. While they retain the right for the final decision themselves it is the guidance and discussion that generally steers whatever decision is made.

Disney uses a very similar practice in their own managing of projects. Employees of Disney can and are welcomed to give their own feedback on any number of topics. Whether and how much this feedback can or does effect the decisions made ultimately falls onto whomever is in charge. An example of this is with employee surveys. These can be used to gather info and general opinions on a range of topics. While mostly used for employee wellness programs they are a good way to get a baseline on any number of potential future projects.

Management Principals

Every company no matter how large or small has to have a basic plan of operation. For many this is the mission statement. What this does is in simple and direct terms, describe the goal and reason for the businesses existence. Disney’s for example is simply “To make people happy.” While this may no longer be their mission statement this was what the company operated under for generations. This reflected in everything from the products they endorsed and produced as well as in how their management operated. To further break this down Disney has several primary guide lines that are used to help outline the company’s general principals. These principals are:

  • Never a customer, always a guest.
  • Share the spotlight.
  • All for one, one for all.
  • Make your elephant fly.
  • Capture the Magic with Storyboards.

Each of these principals have their own meaning within Disney’s overarching management structure as well as their values in business.

Never a Customer, Always a Guest

This principal can be summarized in Disney’s direct and indirect interactions with the consumer. In regards to their theme park it’s as literal as never calling a customer a customer but a guest but also extends to how the employees interact with these customers. As for its use within the company it boils down to treating everyone with respect.

Share The Spotlight

What this principal means is that while everyone shines as an individual, it is when they combine their strengths do they really begin to shine. This principal is mostly seen with Disney’s various partnerships and licensed products. For example, with the acquisition of Marvel comics, Disney could very easily start putting some of their beloved characters like Mickey and Donald in any number of Marvel products. However, this would take away from those products without proper context. With the success of several of Marvels movies in recent years, Disney using this principal is more than happy letting Marvel do it’s own thing while still being part of the Disney family.

All For One, One For All

This is basically just Disney’s way of saying that teamwork is a as beneficial to the company as it is to the individuals working together. Similar to the principal “Share the Spotlight” this principal is in essence saying that all employees regardless of project, experience, or background are all part of the Disney family and as such all have the same goal.

Make The Elephant Fly

A reference to Dumbo one of the earlier successes of Disney, this primarily used to help projects stay focused and on track. No matter how absurd or crazy an idea might seem where there is a will there is a way. In other words, don’t think of ideas as “can and cannot” but instead think of them as in terms of “how.”

Capture the Magic with Storyboards

Storyboards are a narrative tool used to give a rough image/structure to a story. These are primarily used for illustrations, animations, and film as they give a basic visual progression of events. While this principal has direct applications within Disney’s animation and film studios it also extends out to other projects as well. By getting a rough image of the progression of a project of any kind you not only see where it is going, where it is at, and where it came from quickly and efficiently but also helps keep projects focused and on track. This also works great in regards to seeking outside funds as this gives investors a quick and easy to understand image of what they may or may not be investing in.

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