DickersonBakker Blog

How to Move Your Mission Forward Like Walt Disney

[Originally published on advocace.com on August 18, 2015 and repurposed for dickerson-bakker.com.]

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”  Walt Disney

Walt Disney said it well: When we know and feel urgency about our direction—we keep moving forward. That is the test: Does the mission statement create urgency and unity?

“Keep Moving Forward” was an animating philosophy of Walt Disney. He wanted to imaginatively pursue his mission—and encouraged others to join him with their creativity. Your team is full of great creativity. Let’s guide that innovative energy toward your mission.

Disney’s early mission was simple: “Make People Happy”. And he wanted his team to keep moving toward that mission.

Mission to “Make People Happy”

Make People Happy permeates everything at Disney. Recently, I interviewed Jim, a former manager of a retail store at Disney World. Jim told of a time where a guest lost his locker key and needed to get into the locker. Jim followed protocol and charged the guest for the duplicate key. The guest became very angry, gave Jim the money and stormed off. Jim followed the rules and, in most organizations, the story would end there.

But not at Disneyworld. Jim’s supervisor saw the situation occur and, after the man left, took Jim aside to quietly direct Jim to handle this frustrated customer in a different way.

The supervisor painted the picture of the guest, “This guest probably spent $5,000 to get here with his family when you count airfare, hotel, park tickets, food and all. In the scheme of things, five dollars is not that much to make this guest happy.” Jim learned the mission in a kind, yet visceral way: Disney wanted to “Make People Happy”.

Whether in the office or with a major donor, how are we leading our teammates toward our mission and helping them gain perspective?

Look for Progress in Your Mission

Our team gathered for a conference a while back and we had a movie night featuring a little-known animated Disney feature titled “Meet The Robinsons”. (I highly recommend it for a movie night with your staff.) It makes a strong point about the power of progress to achieve a life-changing mission.

Making “Meet The Robinsons” entailed quite a bit of drama on its own. The movie began production in 2004 with a scheduled 2006 release. In early 2006, Disney acquired Pixar and John Lassetter became the Chief Creative Officer of both Disney and Pixar. Lassetter saw an early screening and told the director that it needed substantial changes before release. Changes indeed! Over 60% of the movie was scrapped and redone before its 2007 release.

John Lassetter knew the standard he wanted to “Make People Happy”—and the first animated release on his watch needed improvement. (By the way, John Lassetter’s first job was piloting the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland Resort—so he lived the Disney standard of performance from an early age.)

What are ways you can help your staff make progress toward the standards of your mission?

Keep Moving Forward Toward Your Mission

Say your mission clearly. Live out your mission before your team. Encourage others to live the mission with you. Just like Disney, keep moving forward.

Want to move your mission forward? Developing your personal vision would be a great place to start. Advocace has an ebook called Set Your Sights. Download your copy here >>

Photo Credit: New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Fisher, Alan, photographer. [Public domain]

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