1-Sentence-Summary: Disney U outlines the principles that create the customer-centric philosophy of Disney and contribute to the company’s massive success, while also highlighting some aspects of their organizational culture, such as caring for their staff and providing high-quality training.
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Favorite quote from the author:
The success of Disney is undeniable. Whether you’re a fan of their characters, which is quite likely, or not, you’ve heard about this company multiple times throughout your life. Disney knows that, so they’ve created themed parks where people can meet their favorite characters in real life. Guess what?
They have a massive success too. So how did Disney manage to achieve all of this? Well, the answer may shock you: a customer-centric culture and an employee-based mentality. If you’re unsure about what these concepts mean, don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a minute.
Disney started off right by adopting the correct mentality. First, they provided the best training for their staff at their themed parks. They considered this an investment, rather than an expense. As a consequence, their employees provide real-life impersonations of everyone’s favorite characters like no one else in the world.
As a result, customers feel magical when visiting these places, so they come back from generation to generation. Therefore, the company sells like crazy. This is a perfect example of a win-win situation, which Disney U explores in detail and tries to teach its readers the best way to achieve it in their companies.
Here are my three favorite lessons from the book:
Let’s take a look at each lesson in greater detail and see what they really mean!
Lesson 1: Invest in your staff and keep them happy at all times in order to achieve success.
If you want to outsmart your competition and develop a sustainable business model, you’ll have to center your business around the customers. In order to do that, you will also have to take care of your staff first and foremost. Why? Because they are responsible for keeping your operations going.
A happy employee is a motivated employee. But how does one motivate their personnel? Sure, physical incentives, such as money, will do the trick. But soon they will need much more than that to stay loyal to your business and keep providing value. It is all about the morals and common purpose they center themselves around.
Employees become most loyal and motivated when they have a common purpose. Disney is a great example of how a company can include its staff in the organizational culture. They do this by continuous training where they learn about the philosophy of the company.
Passing on values makes them feel like they’re part of a bigger movement and makes them think past their material needs.
Also, in order to keep them happy, management has to be very transparent and adopt the ‘’open-door’’ policy, so as to encourage employees to speak up about any problems and challenges they may encounter.
A sustainable business model implies an executive who understands the company they run very well. They can also find the balance between the practical and artistic sides of their business. Disney is a great example of outstanding management and a harmonious balance between the two.
In other words, a company has two sides. The scientific side of it includes its infrastructure, and the services and products offered. This part is about the processes and the physical assets. Disney has theme parks and many attractions within them that they exploit for lucrative purposes.
The artistic side of it consists in running the staff and creating an organizational culture. This aspect of a business makes it stand out from other organizations. For Disney, this part is about teaching their staff interpersonal skills and how to communicate and bond with customers, while delivering outstanding experiences for them.
Disney is also a great example of how trained and happy employees will dictate the success of a company. Their staff is heavily trained on delivering a stellar customer experience by impersonating famous characters. As such, their audiences keep on coming and they have done so for the last fifty-plus years.
Businesses must always adapt to the dynamicity of their environment, as it is unpredictable and quite competitive, and whoever fails to do so will find that their business is in big danger of going bankrupt. A good leader and administrator must frequently analyze the company’s strategy and adjust it.
Take the example of huge companies, like Nokia, which were once among the leaders of their industry, but no one has heard of them in years. This is due to poor management, who failed to learn from their past mistakes and anticipate future trends and strategies. Disney, on the other hand, does things a bit differently.
Traditional business models are often outdated when it comes to the market nowadays, where the digital environment is the primordial source of information. Therefore, managers should learn to keep up with changes and never be rigid when it comes to switching business practices when they no longer work.
Moreover, when it comes to the future, a good executive will try to anticipate it, so as to create potential strategies and not get caught by surprise. Disney does this by keeping up with the latest digital trends in animation with their smart parks. Therefore, not only do they get to keep their recurring audience engaged, but they can also attract younger generations, immersed in the digital culture.
One important aspect when it comes to creating or maintaining business practices is feedback. As an executive, you’ll want to get as many opinions as you can, so as to receive fresh perspectives. Do this by asking staff, newcomers, and stakeholders about key aspects of the business, and sort through the information at the end.
Disney U focuses on the essential aspects of a successful business like Disney, which managed to stay relevant on the market for decades and gain new audiences constantly. The power of example is what makes this book valuable, as companies can learn many good practices by reading about this organization. The author offers advice on how to keep employees happy, hold on to traditions without altering the future of a company, and other actionable advice.
A 40-year-old business executive who wants to learn more about successful business practices, a 35-year-old leader who wants to understand what keeps team members happy and engaged, or a 23-year-old who is passionate about Disney and their theme parks from their childhood.
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