It’s Always Easier When You Work With Someone Who’s Been There Before

It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the size and complexity of some tasks you undertake.

…like planning a week-long visit to Walt Disney World.

That’s the place I found myself in five years ago, when my wife and I began planning a Walt Disney World trip for our 22-year old daughter, as a delayed college graduation gift.

I had been to the Magic Kingdom once. As a senior in high school. For a day. In 1976. A long time ago…

Some things had changed a lot, and my memory wasn’t that good about the trip anyway. Being the research kind of guy, I began looking online at various websites about 9 months prior to the trip. I also checked out some guide books from the library. But the hands down, absolutely best way to plan a trip to Disney World is to use a travel planner. Better yet, a travel planner whose specialty is the Disney Empire, and is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.

Enter Annette at Small World Vacations. When some good friends found out what we were going to do, they heartily recommended I get in touch with Annette. I’m so very glad I did! She walked me through the basics, helped me choose the best options for a fun week, made great recommendations for things to do and places to eat, and generally helped created a great week for us.

Amy WDW2011

This picture pretty much speaks for itself.

Through her services, we were able to get a fabulous room in a great resort, get all the dinner reservations we wanted, and plan plenty of surprises for our daughter. Annette’s service didn’t stop in the preplanning, either. When I had a couple of questions just before I left, she was quick to answer them. And waiting for us when we got back was an email welcoming us home and wanting to know how our week went.  And so, over the last five years, in preparing for many return trips to Walt Disney World, my first call has always been to Annette. Whether it’s a year in advance (planning a week-long trip for my immediate family of 13) or a week before (a last-minute change in schedule allowing me a day in the parks), the help and guidance of an expert is invaluable.

Planning is easier when you work with someone who’s been there before.

This takeaway doesn’t just apply to planning to go to Disney – I also found out it applied to what Disney itself does in their development for future attractions. While they are reluctant to just “copy” what has worked in one Park and transfer it to another, they do learn valuable lessons and apply a continuous learning cycle to all their operations.

The takeaway also applied to how they staffed Disney World prior to its opening in 1971: a year before the Park opened, they hired several hundred college sophomores for seasonal work; the next year, they went after juniors, and the following year, when the Park was really hitting its stride, they hired seniors. The best of this experienced group were offered entry-level management positions after graduation, and many went on to achieve high-level positions all across the Disney companies.

How do you take advantage of experience in planning and staffing at your organization?

 

Oh, there’s one other thing: Even with the best of outside help, you still have to do the work yourself.

AFAWDWPlanning

Spring Semester in the GsD Program: It’s All Disney All the Time!

In my continuing pursuit of a GsD (Doctor of Guestology), I’m really excited about the next month:

Reading Perquisite

Disney UA long-anticipated book just arrived yesterday –

 

Look for details on the thirteen powerful lessons Lipp delivers in Disney U coming soon.

Learning Lab

Backstage Magic bookshelfIn late April, I will be headed to Disney World for a 2-day learning lab. The first day, I will be spending the whole day in the Magic Kingdom with my wife. We’ll be focusing on the newest attractions and restaurants that have recently opened up in Fantasyland.

The second day, I will be spending about 7 hours behind-the-scenes on the “Backstage Magic” tour. It’s a tour of all 4 parks plus a few extras.

During the ‘semester” look for regular updates on how ChurchWorld leaders can translate the magic of Disney into WOW! Guest Experiences for your church.

the GsD (Doctor of Guestology) journey: Spring 2013

What Can You Learn from Your Front-Line Team?

Cross-Utilization (Cross-U) is a Walt Disney World program that operates during the Spring and Winter holidays (their busiest seasons). It gives Cast Members from various parts of WDW a chance to work the front lines and interact with Guests.

With so many Cast Members of WDW working behind the scenes, Cross-U offers a wonderful opportunity for Cast Members to participate in one of the cornerstones of the Disney enterprise: Guest Services.

Participants in Cross-U witness the collective effort it takes to create the great Guest Experience. Regardless of where behind-the-scene (or off-stage) Cast Members work, there is no better way of understanding the impact of magical Guest Experiences than watching kids and their parents enjoying a favorite character or attraction.

According to Disney executives, getting ready for Cross-U takes months of planning, thousands of details to monitor and an untold number of checks and balances.

Is all this trouble worth it?

The answer for Disney is a resounding Yes! In addition to providing much-needed front-line help during busy times, the feedback from participants after their shifts is invaluable. They talk about making a difference with Guests and assisting Cast Members.

In other words, they get it – they understand the critical importance of front-line staff in Guest Experiences. And it’s just not head knowledge – it comes from direct interaction with Guests.

How valuable would that be in any organization that serves Guests?

More importantly, how important would a process like Cross-U be in ChurchWorld?

How to Be Like Walt, Part 2

Walt Disney had a burning desire for excellence in everything he did. He was always thinking, ‘We can do it better.’ That’s a common trait of all successful people.

Royal Clark, former treasurer of WED Enterprises

Walt Disney’s life provides powerful lessons that can be applied in any leadership position. Author Pat Williams recognized this, and went behind the legend to discover a man every bit as fascinating as the world he created.

How to Be Like Walt is the result of thousands of hours of interviews of the people who knew Walt best. In addition to being a fascinating life story of one of our nation’s most creative minds, the author has distilled Walt’s life into 17 lessons – lessons that we all could learn from. I introduced the topic yesterday; here are a few more:

Plus Every Experience: Sometime during the 1940s, Walt coined the term “plussing.” Normally, the word “plus” is a conjunction, as in “two plus two equals four.” But Walt used the word as a verb – an action word. To “plus” something is to improve it. “Plussing” means giving your guests more than they paid for, more than they expect, more than you have to give them. No matter what “business” you are in, your success depends on your commitment to excellence and attention to detail. If you deliver more than people expect, you will turn people into fans. Pursue excellence in everything you do.

Be a Person of Stick-to-it-ivity: Today we look at Disneyland and say, “Of course! Just what the world needed. How could it miss?” But in 1955, Disneyland was the biggest gamble in the history of American business. The risk paid off – not because Walt was lucky or favored or a genius. It paid off because Walt wouldn’t quit. The success of Disneyland is, first and foremost, the result of sheer dogged determination and persistence in the face of obstacles and opposition. In his own words, “Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done, and done right.”

Become Like a Sponge for Ideas: Walt continually fed his mind with information and ideas. He absorbed inspiration wherever he went. If you want to be like Walt – more creative, more imaginative, and more successful – then keep your eyes and ears open. Read. Watch. Travel. Talk to people wherever you go. Ask questions. Invite opinions. Become a sponge for ideas.

Ask Yourself “How About Tomorrow?”: Walt embraced the future and put the stamp of his own personality on tomorrow. If we want to help shape a better tomorrow, then we need to continually ask ourselves the same question Walt asked Ray Bradbury: “How about tomorrow?” The difference between today and tomorrow is something called change. It takes courage to embrace the future, because the future is about change, and change brings uncertainty and anxiety. We fear change; we prefer the comfort of the familiar. But change is inevitable. If we do not become future-focused, we are doomed to obsolescence when tomorrow arrives. There are so many possible futures – which one will you choose?

Here are the rest of the author’s “How to Be Like Walt” lessons:

  • Become an Animated Leader
  • Take a Risk
  • Dealing with Loss
  • Live for the Next Generation
  • Build Complementary Partnerships
  • Stay Focused
  • Accept Your Mortality
  • Make Your Family Your Top Priority
  • Be the Person God Made You to Be

Each of the 17 lessons in the book are richly illustrated with stories by and about Walt Disney. I encourage you to get a copy and prepare to be delighted – and challenged.

Walt’s life challenges us to dream bigger, reach higher, work harder, risk more, and persevere as long as it takes. That is the rich legacy Walt Disney left us. That is the supreme lesson of his endlessly instructive life. The riches of an incredible, adventure-filled life are within our grasp – if we will dare to be like Walt.

Pat Williams

If you liked these two posts, here a few more select Disney-related posts:

The Secret of Disney World

Top Ten Takeaways from Our Disney World Adventure

Understanding Guests Like Disney

Overboard on the Mouse? Or …?

For the last 10 days, I have gone into a little detail about what I considered the Top Ten Takeaways from a recent family trip to Disney World. Of course, there was also the Top Ten List itself. And the five posts while actually at Disney World. That’s sixteen posts in less than a month! You probably think I’ve gone overboard on Disney! After all, it’s only a Mouse…

No, I don’t think so – it’s much more than that.

My passion is to energize leaders so that they help their organizations thrive by turning challenges into opportunities.

And no one provides a better model for that than Disney.

So I’m going to keep coming back to the “magic” of Disney – because I know I’m learning a lot, and I’ve got a hunch you can too!