Disneyland the strategy of love

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In our fast moving everyday life people at home tell us to be concentrated, at work people tell us to be motivated, in the university people tell us: "Leadership is what matters". As it seems, we forget that imagination is actually the key element of our success. Companies should hire extraordinary characters that enjoy themselves. This expands the range of services it performs and in hard times these people will actually help to save that company.-"The goal is not to mobilize people to create value to the customer but to create something that will mobilize the customer to create value for himself from your offerings"(Tom Peters)

The company that managed to achieve that goal is Walt Disney. Since this brand creates output that is innovative and entertaining they create a similar learning environment that encourages employees to learn and develop their imaginative skills. That work force is well-trained, enthusiastic and motivated.

Before starting work at Walt Disney there are a few steps that everyone should follow in order to become part of Disney's magic. All Disney's cast members begin their career with the moment they walk through the casting office door. They are showed Disney's rich entertainment background and working environment during the years. In my opinion this is very important because in order a person to be passionate about his/her job he must be emotionally involved with the company. In order to be achieved the person should feel that the company is something that has history but will not have future if the people don't give energy to the company to survive. Job significance is also a crucial element in people's emotional attachment to the company.

Another reason for Disney to be so careful in selecting its future employees is that that the job market in central Florida is quite competitive. The unemployment rate is only 3% which makes it quite hard to choose the best ones. In my opinion this picture is more favourable compared with the one that there is a high unemployment unskilled labor (China). In that case choosing the best employees would be a challenge.

In selecting the future working force Disney uses people from different parts of Disney's organization. They work on 12-month assignments. This is a clever way of choosing the best because every person from the different department "examines" the applicants from different angels.

While prospective cast members wait for their first interviews they watch a short video that explains the interview process and the expectations of the Disney Company form its employees. After that they go through a short training called Traditions. The company refers to this training as the Disney University. While waiting for their bachelor degree the applicants learn the basics of being good cast members and how to exceed guest expectations.

Walt Disney constructed the Disney University when the company realized that it needed a well structured learning environment to teach the specifics of the job the Disney cast members. To this day this remains the largest corporate training facility in the world. This University provides Disney's 42,000 cast members diverse skills from computer knowledge to culinary arts. The company also provides a unique opportunity to pursue college education at Disney's expense. This is the so called Educational Reimbusement Plan. Walt Disney is also famous for its cutting-edge technology. All cast members receive computer training at their work site or through specially utilized advanced training technologies whenever it is convenient for them. This Disney university also offers training via satellite from some of America's top business schools. Some of these top schools are Babson College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University, Southern Methodist University and so on. Moreover, The Disney University Learning Center offers self-paced courses. These courses aim at teaching the new cast members whenever they have time. In addition to that a variety of visiting faculty are available for specialized training at various times. As it seems Disney has thought of everything. Flexible time schedules, skill via different teaching methods- these are all key layers in one very well developed strategic plan of onboarding strategy. These "natural selection" is programmed to be available for all, accessible for all and comfortable for all at any time. Careful selection equals best outcomes.

One surprising fact about Disney orientation is that the University does not offer specific quality courses. This contradicts with the definition of quality by the program manager Jim Cunnungham : " Disney defines quality as attention to detail and exceeding guest expectations". If quality is so must -have accessory why does the Disney University not offer any courses about that? After all, quality is the basis of the success of the Disney Entertainment Company. It turns out that the quality and service are build into all the training programs by Disney University. To keep up to date with the increasing expectations of the public, Disney collects data on its guests from surveys, focus groups and opinion polls. Disney also pays attention to the global and local service quality issues. Global measures are concentrated on corporate issues while local measures are in the hands of the cast members. Even though Disney cast members measure service quality, establish benchmark and set goals there is no director of quality in Disney because all cast members are responsible for quality.

There are now five key communication priorities that Disney is working on:

  • • "Studio Exclusive" executive videos for the intranet. These give employees insight about the personality and significance of the senior leaders. It is aimed to be entertaining as well as informative.
  • •Breaking news.-this boosts employee involvement with the business
  • •Studio Executive Coffee-A group of 20 Studio employees meet a senior executive and share experience on the job.
  • •Disney is working to create a more interactive and Customizable Intranet
  • •Onboarding for new hires. They want to change it to a more ongoing dialogue.
  • In my opinion in order onboarding to become more of an ongoing dialogue a few steps could be added to make this process more entertaining and at the same time effective. The introduction of some time of personality test will give an insight about the type of person the company is looking for. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Big Five Personality model are two good examples of well structured personality tests. This kind of "examination" is cost-effective and fast at the same time.

    Since Disney is all about creativity a simple test to the new cast members will put their imaginative skills into challenge. For example, all cast members can be divided into different groups. Each group will hear a story and in five minutes they should finish it in their own way. This game will activate their creative thinking.

    Another way of differentiating the extraordinary minds can be a simple question asked to all prospective employees-What is their favourite Disney character and why? In the history of Walt Disney there are many different types of personalities created or brought from different books into animated characters. In this vast collection the choice of a particular character will define a different personality. The different aspect of one and the same character will also enlighten the creative from the ordinary thinking.

    The last proposal that I have for the Disney onboarding procedure is again in the form of a game. The cast members should be asked to draw a picture for one minute about whatever they want and explain it afterwards. This may seem like a strange and pointless step but actually many psychologists would agree that this task will reveal more about the personality in front of you than a conversation with the person.

    My generation of people have grown up with Disney's animated stories. I thought nothing will be able to surprise me anymore; however, Disney did it again!

    The new animated movie "Up" manages to create a perspective in life quite different than anything I have ever seen before. A cartoon combined with humour, cutting-edge technology and dramatic real life events. Why should we be surprised? After all, Disney successfully collects extraordinary and devoted to their work people every year! The company as a whole has always been very collaborative and relies on authenticity. If employee didn't believe and love what they are doing, Disney wouldn't have been at this level in the hierarchy. Disney manages to give involvement, appreciation and respect to its employees. This is something that employees rank number one in terms of what employees wanted from their job. Isn't that what every company is striving for?


    The Disney company has managed to entertain children and adults for many years. They have created imagination and creative works that are always unique. They manage to do this by careful selection of the new cast members. Probably Disney is one of the very few companies that has developed such a well formed plan of onboarding and orientation of its new employees. However, there are a few things that can be improved in the company and that is the introduction of other methods of selecting the people. A psychology test or a fast drawing competition is another way of selection that can be used. Disney can also organize a competition about a certain story that is told and cast members must finish it. This will differentiate the extraordinary people that Disney magic needs.