Summary: This non fiction book looks at why Disney continues to flourish and makes suggestions about how their strategies can be incorporated into other businesses.
My Rating 3/5
The Disney Way has some really cool ideas about managing businesses that can be incorporated into many different settings. One idea I thought was especially fascinating was using storyboards to solve business problems. Another idea I really enjoyed was being open to the ideas of workers at all levels. Apparently one exhibit was greatly improved by something a janitor said that the other people in the organization wouldn’t have noticed.
After each philosophy is put into use there are specific stories from the companies such as Cheesecake Factory and Whirlpool that use the same ideas. Those parts of the book were my favorite because some of the concepts don’t make much sense in a vacuum.
I read this book because my workplace has recently hired the Disney Institute to help improve our workplace and many of us were enthusiastic to understand what the Disney Institute has to offer.
I think this book has some great ideas but I also had some problems with it.
My first issue was that this book was a very dry read. I frequently read non fiction and business related books. Some are more interesting than others. I think this book could have been more interesting. Disney is a company that is all about entertainment but this book was closer to a text book style wise. It isn’t something I would recommend for a fun read about business. There are better books out there just for learning about business.
My second issue, and it is a big one, is that many things in this book feel very whitewashed. I have watched documentaries about Walt Disney and read articles etc about the company. Many of the things in the book are contradictory to things I have read/seen elsewhere about the company. I need to point out right now that I am not sure which sources are most correct and it could be that other videos and articles were incorrect and this book is right. I can’t be sure but regardless two points in particular really bothered me.
Point One: Walt Disney was creative but great at watching the bottom line.
Most everything I have heard or read about Disney is that he was actually pretty awful with money and others had to help with money management. At times, Walt made very bad money decisions that could have potentially crippled the company.
Understandably, the books intended audience is management who are probably sticklers of the bottom line so it is easier to make Walt seem as if he was also a stickler of the bottom line.
Point Two: Walt Disney believes that happy employees are the basis of a good business.
I think it goes without saying that this is true. Happy employees make a good business. Still, my understanding is that in early days there were many issues with conflict between Walt and the employees, in some cases even involving protests by workers.
I don’t know where the truth lies but from what I have heard about Disney it is hard to admire him and I think the book places too much admiration on their founder. Disney’s principles of business obviously work. That doesn’t necessarily mean Disney was a good person.
I didn’t think this book was all that great but it did have some good ideas. If your employer is working with the Disney Institute it might be worth reading. Otherwise, there are many business books that are easier to read than this one.