Monday, July 21, 2014

One More for Walt Disney

By Pascal Dennis

Just watched Frozen again with the family and my mind turned, again, to Walt Disney.

(I recommend the fine biography by Bob Thomas, and Tom Hanks portrayal in the recent movie, Saving Mr. Banks.)

What words come to mind?

Imagination, energy, optimism and decency.

Walt Disney was also a consummate Lean thinker.

He practiced the fundamentals every day, including visual management, go see, leader standard work and strategy deployment. His contributions to visual management are legendary. He invented story-boarding, for example, the visual approach to movie-making.

He practiced Go See every day. “I see myself as a little bee," he said. "I go from one area of the studio gathering pollen and sort of stimulate everybody."

As a result he had a deep grasp of the situation and was able to articulate strategy in compelling ways.

The creation of Disneyland in the early 1950's was a brilliant example of Strategy Deployment. Walt began with a clear and compelling vision which he articulated through images (story-boards). His vision was informed by extensive travel and research into amusement parks around the world. He knew what worked and what didn't work. As ever, he grounded his vision in concrete experience.

Then he put together an exemplary team, deployed elements of the plan to each team leader and checked progress with visual tools and leader standard work. A remarkable leader indeed.

It strikes me, again, that what we call "Lean" is just good business.

Bless you, Walt.

Best regards,


1 comment:

  1. Ed Catmull, in his book Creativity Inc, talks about the influence Walt Disney had on him. Ed, along with Steve Jobs and others, is a founder (and now president of) of Pixar. In the first 4 chapters he talks about Disney's influence on him, and how he has used Lean principles to foster a work environment that fosters creativity in his company.