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

Pursuing Excellence…

Always.

From an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America:

Cooking is an inexact science, and this is where the art comes in. You’ve got standard ratios that work up to a point. There are always variables, as far as: Did you cook all the roux out? How high was your cooking temperature? How much evaporation did you have? How much did it reduce? You have to take all those things into account, and see what your final product is, and figure out how to fix it. You have to be not so stressed out or under pressure that you can say “I know it’s not right and I need to fix it.”

“You can’t ever send a product out if it’s not right,” he continued. It doesn’t matter how busy you are – your reputation is on the line every time you put a plate out. If you send it out hoping they won’t notice, then that’s the kind of chef you will be all your life.

“So. Start. Good habits. Early! Do it right. Take your time.”

As Tom Peters would say:

EXCELLENCE.

Always.

If not EXCELLENCE, what?

If not EXCELLENCE now, when?

Excellence is not a goal – it’s the way we live, who we are.

What’s up at your place, excellence-wise? Are you content with the same old, same old? Is is good enough? Or are you pursuing excellence?

Strive for excellence – ignore success.

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!