Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Between Books - The Disney Way Interview

After reading The Disney Way Third Edition, author Bill Capodagli agreed to take a few questions about the book and Disney management that were inspired by the book.

Between Disney:  I have read a lot of Disney management/business books, but this one really seems relevant to the non-Disney fan.  For the non-Disney fan who might think of Disney as a Mickey Mouse affair.   Why should the non-fan care about the Disney Way?

Capodagli:  The Walt Disney Company is more than just a benchmark for the entertainment and hospitality industries.  Walt Disney World has the fifth largest laundry in the world, the largest in the US. It is a production facility that processes thousands of costumes, bedding, towels and linens every single day.  Cast members work hard in the heat, and they are paid a little bit more than minimum wage. Yet, there is less than 5 percent turnover in that facility.  Disney also has world-class maintenance facilities; they maintain hundreds of miles of roads on their properties; and they staff departments such as Horticulture and the Living Seas with experts in their fields. Pick any process...Disney has likely mastered it; any organization can learn from Disney’s example beyond the world of “Mickey Mouse.”

Between DisneyI really resonate to the partnership materials in the book.  Disney really seems to operate best when a strong partnership is in place with Walt/Roy, Eisner/Wells Lasseter/Catmull.  How can we foster this type of relationship building in our own workplaces?

Capodagli: Within organizations, relationship building requires two important factors, the first of which is clarifying individual accountabilities.  Employees need to clearly understand their individual roles, and secondarily, they need to understand how their roles complement those of others to produce what Disney calls the “good show” experience.  However, there is one more factor that is critical to long-lasting successful relationships – mutual respect and trust.  One great example is the “loving kindness” culture of Acts Retirement-Life Communities, a FEATURED ORGANIZATION in the 3rd edition of The Disney Way.  All the best partnerships in history – from Walt and Roy Disney to John Lasseter and Ed Catmull – were based upon mutual respect and trust and “loving kindness.”

Between Disney:  I recently storyboarded to get ideas.  I was struck by the power of this tool.  But what I am really wondering what common qualities do you see in leaders willing to open themselves up to a leadership storyboard?
Capodagli: Leadership storyboards are beneficial when a leader is open to changing his or her ineffective behaviors based upon team feedback.

Between Disney: I work in a volunteer position where I provide leadership and a clear vision.  But sometimes the vision gets lost to the work.  How can I reinforce the dream, especially with a non-paid and low-paid staff?
Capodagli: Any leader who is responsible for a team needs to continually reinforce the vision, “dream”, or story at every opportunity including team meetings and company events. These critical cultural elements must be included in an organization’s hiring process as well as communicated to vendors, stockholders and other stakeholders.

Between Disney:  You focus on start-ups in your examples of using the Disney Way throughout the book.  What about the culture of a start up opens them to using this model?
 Capodagli: The beauty of a start-up organization is that they have a “blank sheet of paper” for creating a culture.  When an organization has been in existence for years or decades, asking employees to embrace a new set of values can be challenging.  So, establishing the core values at the outset is the best scenario to achieve long-term success.

 Thank you very for your time and your additional insights into The Disney Way and how we can Dream, Believe, Dare, Do in our own business and personal lives.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cap's Comics - Figment 2 #4

Jim Zub and artist Ramon Bachs take us deep into Dreamfinder and all of his doubt in Figment 2 #4, "The Legacy of Imagination Part Four: The War Within."  With Dreamfinder and the Academy Scientifica-Ludicus possessed by doubt, it is up to Capri, Dreamfinder's modern relative, Figment and Capri's imagination creation Spark to face the doubt inside Dreamfinder to overcome the Doubtfinder.  Can Capri prove herself a hero and provide a "spark" in the darkness of doubt?

Spark is cute!  Okay, I am personally not a big fan of cats, sorry.  But Spark and his rhyming sayings are super cute and give hope in the midst of a time of darkness and doubt.  Some of Spark's rhymes also sound like Easter Eggs to the keen eared Disney fan!  And Carpi is an inspiring young lady, one that readers of all ages and genders can aspire to be more like in this time of doubt and fear.  The story at times feels more horror than fantasy, and despite being a fan of of horror I still liked this issue.  The Between Kid also enjoyed the story and kept the Between Kid's attention.

John Tyler Christopher Action Figure Cover

Sometimes all that is needed is a spark of hope...of imagination.  Capri faces Dreamfinder's deepest fears in Dreamfinder 2 #4.  The story combines horror with fantasy while still providing an all-ages romp that everyone can enjoy.  And I really look forward to finding out in the last issue Dreamfinder and Figment both defeat the doubt and make it home!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Between Books - The Disney Way: Third Edition

Dream, Believe, Dare, Do.

Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson in The Disney Way: Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in Your Company Third Edition summarizes the keys of Disney management success into these four seemingly simple words. The authors take readers through each key word in their model explaining how to practically make each action verb something that can be replicated in a manager's specific setting.  To make these words real, the authors explain their context within Disney history and how non-Disney companies have made these concepts their own.  They show readers how Dream is really about creating culture and providing employees a vision.  For Believe they demonstrate how managers can create buy-in and alignment to the accepted vision by using tools to align action with vision, valuing customer interaction within the dream and making forging durable partnerships.  The authors encourage their readers to take risks in Dare.  And finally in Do they discuss the role of training, planning, and even measuring success.  Within the book the authors provide numerous tools such as Storyboards and Vision Alignment rubrics to support the eager manager.  

The past editions of The Disney Way have stood the test of time.  And I expect this book will also.  The third edition is clear, practical and provides tools that managers can use in aligning their operations to Dream, Believe, Dare, Do.  In some cases this will require a culture change.  For examples, which the authors provide numerous non-Disney examples throughout, they decided to update the text with examples of companies that are in the start-up mode.  This allows the authors to show how young companies or those in transition have been able to adopt these four little words.  The book while well-written is really a management book.  The text would be relevant more to the manager than the non-manager amateur Disney fan.  As the management content is probably the most interesting to managers and aspiring managers.  However, the Disney content is well balanced and likely of interest to anyone in a management position.  As a Disney fan/manager, I found the book both useful and interesting.  Still, I would have no problem recommending it to non-Disney addicted colleagues.   

For me the chapter on partnerships really stood out.  I am interested as I have mentioned before in Roy O. Disney and how he successfully worked to support his brother’s dreaming and innovating.  And as one reviews Disney history and considers the numerous partnerships from Roy/Walt, Eisner/Wells, Catmull/Lasseter it is easy to quickly realize how powerful a partnership is to making Believe happen.   And it becomes easy to see how as the authors point out, partnerships enable an individual to expand their horizon and effectiveness.  

As mentioned the text includes a number of tools that managers can use.   The Storyboard tool and its variations appear highly useful in gathering information and making sure that everyone can participate in the decision making process.  However, I will say that the Leadership Storyboard definitely appears to be something that is not for the faint of heart.  

The Disney Way: Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in Your Company Third Edition is a clear and useful management book grounded in Disney company history.  It provides a clear model in Dream, Believe, Dare, Do that is easy to understand for all managers.  But best of all the authors provide tools to make a model which can appear highly philosophical, realistic. 

Review Copy Provided by Publisher 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dreaming Disney - Creating Disney Magic

Over the last year or so, Lee Cockerell’s Creating Disney Magic: Lessons in Leadership, Management, and Customer Service podcast has become a Tuesday morning priority for me.  The podcast opens with host Jody Maberry setting up Cockerell, a former Disney executive, to discuss business topics that come from Maberry or even the listening audience.  The topics covered are diverse ranging from leadership to customer service to using data to time management.  In short, if there is a topic that could be useful to a professional working adult it is likely they will talk about it.  for those of us with a whimsical side, Cockerell discusses these items in the very serious Disney business setting  along with his background in hotel management.  Along with these topics, Cockerell provides a very honest appraisal of his own struggles as a leader and as a human being.

Integrity and common sense are really the words that come to mind when I think of Lee Cockerell.  And these qualities make this show essential listening to me.  I find that I not only listen on a weekly basis but also will search the archive for specific work issues that myself and others are facing in the workplace.  And the reason this is a must listen is due to Cockerell.  His answers typically provide an outlook that relies on common sense, being a person of integrity, and treating others fairly.  This is not cut throat business advice, this is advice for people.   He often makes it clear that a leader has to foster development in even poorly performing employees and that caring for people is really a core function of a leader.  The Disney background gives Disney fans a background that helps understanding.  Though honestly I have sent episodes to plenty of non-Disney fanatics and they still found these episodes highly useful.

Creating Disney Magic:Lessons in Leadership, Management, and Customer Service is probably one of my top three podcasts.  It is informative, educational, honest and short.  It attracted me through the door due to my interest in Disney history and business developments.  But I stay due to Cockerell’s reliable professional and personal development life!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Between Books - Black Widow: Forever Red

After reading Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket and Groot Steal the Galaxy and reading a Red Widow short comic story in Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1,  I thought another Marvel prose book and another Red Widow story was a combination I wanted nothing to do with.  It seemed like the anti peanut butter and chocolate combination.  And throw in the fact that the newest Marvel prose book was Young Adult fiction, really meant  Black Widow: Forever Red had not chance with me.  But I decided it was my duty to at least borrow the book from the library.  Though I doubted that it would be worth the time needed to read it.  Would my assumptions prove correct?

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl introduces us to Ava Orlova, a Russian girl, saved by Black Widow from Ivan Somodorov, the same monster who trained Natasha Romanoff at the Red Room as a child assassin.  After her rescue where she expected to be bonding with her red headed hero, Ava was dropped off in the United States by Natasha at a S.H.I.E.L.D facility never to hear from her rescuer again, she thought.  Ava runs away and strikes out on her own.  But she is haunted by dreams of a boy and his life.  Ava runs into the dream boy, Alex Manor at a fencing tourney at just the moment Black Widow reenters Ava's life.  But sadly for the teens, Ivan Somodorov is also attempting to recapture Ava and exploit her special relationship with Black Widow.  The international adventure the three charge into reveals secrets about all three heroes as they attempt to stop Somodorov from using his last Red Room experiment from gaining influence on the world's governments.

Here let me cut the suspense.  I really enjoyed Black Widow: Forever Red.  I found the new teen characters to be interesting and I wanted to know more about their backgrounds and struggles.  I understood Ava's resentment at Natasha Romanoff for abandoning her to S.H.I.E.LD., but I also understand why Black Widow kept her distance from a girl who looked like and had a background similar to her.  Alex is sprinkled in as the apparent normal teen pulled into the world of spies and secrets.  But Alex also is more than what he seems.  Finally, Stohl made me suitably tense by placing transcripts of a Line-Of-Duty Death Investigation between chapters.  As a reader I knew someone died, but if it was a hero or villain...well that took time to be revealed.

Additionally, the book is one that Marvel Cinematic Universe fans are likely to enjoy.  The books features Agent Phil Coulson as along with Tony Stark supporting the Black Widow in her investigations.   And the transcripts feel like the Natasha Romanoff from Captain America: Civil War in her tone and attitude.  So even if this book is not part of the MCU, it does lack the logo so its inclusion is not really confirmed to me, it is fully in the spirit of the cinematic offerings. And MCU fans are sure to feel at home in these pages. 

I enjoyed Black Widow: Forever Red as both a book fan and a Marvel fan.  My assumptions were truly turned on their head as I found Ava to be more interesting than her earlier appearance in a short comic story.  And unlike the earlier prose contribution, the story was engaging, full of interesting characters and a very enjoyable read.  Now I just hope that we might see more prose stories from Marvel when before I felt as if they were not needed.  And I would be more than happy if Stohl took a turn at writing the next prose title. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Between Books - Window on Main Street

As I look through my wishlists there have been a few books that have eluded me. Frustration about this often mounts as I read other Between Books which reference these volumes. One such book is Window on Main Street: 35 year of Creating Happiness at Disneyland Park by Van Arsdale France. So it definitely felt magical when a new edition of this book was listed, finally making the book something I could add to my shelves.

Window on Main Street: 35 year of Creating Happiness at Disneyland Park by Van Arsdale France is the Disney Legend’s memoir outlining his years with Disney from before the opening of Disneyland into the 1980s. France details not just his role as a training expert for Disney, being brought into Disney by friend C.V. Wood during park construction. Along with training new staff for Walt Disney’ park, France outlines literally helping to build the road to the park…sometimes with beer. After the departure of C.V. Wood, France would eventually follow his sponsor to new parks. After a few years of being outside of the berm his former employee Dick Nunis would recruit the organizational expert back to Disneyland. Upon his return, he outlines a number of key projects including the creation of Disney University, training cast members after the death of Walt Disney, training for the opening of new parks including Walt Disney World, and fighting to stay out of retirement while working at the Disneyland that he invested so much of his life to.

Theme Park Press is the publisher of this new edition. And it is really a new book in many ways. The publisher did not reprint the book as previously offered, but instead chose to publish the longer original manuscript. And personally I like the idea of being to see more of the late France’s thoughts and observations. So I really like this book and am thrilled it is no longer a dream to own of copy.

One of the biggest takeaways for me was that Van Arsdale France was more than a trainer. Before Disneyland opened along with training he was also serving as a liaison between the Highway Patrol and road construction crews. Sure we have heard stories from cast like Bob Gurr that make it clear that staff did new and different things as the needs of the park demanded it. But I read France’s experiences and see an corporate executive who is training cast, overseeing construction and in some case serving as a publicity director to key groups. It was a big and varied portfolio. To make his career even more varied he took on other jobs including area supervisor, at least temporarily. It was truly a varied Disney career and not as focuses as I believed.

We also get to see his thoughts on other key Disney personalities. I cannot think of many books of inside Disney staff who discuss the key role of C.V. Wood. France was a Wood protégé in many ways and paints a realistic yet favorable picture of a man that Disney history often forgets. Additionally, we get to see much of Dick Nunis, a man that France hired and would eventually hire him. It is clear that France admired Nunis, and anyone who would think to deny it should examine the book’s picture inclusions.

Window on Main Street: 35 year of Creating Happiness at Disneyland Park
by Van Arsdale France is a book I am thrilled to have on my shelf! Disneyland and Disney history fans will find this to be a must have title, especially since they have wanted it for years. And Van Arsdale France and his friendly but honest recollections will not disappoint as he tells of strikes, Yippies and more.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Cap's Comics - Figment 2 #3

All is lost.  The Dreamfinder is gone!  And in his place is the Doubtfinder has taken his body.  Figment goes on the run and finds himself a new dreamer, the formerly introduced Capri, who not only wishes to enter the school made famous by Blair Mercurial but also has a secondary connection.  Capri and Figment attack the Academy Scientifica-Lucidus to face-off against the Doubtfinder, finding a new ally on the way. 

John Tyler Christopher Action Figure Variant
Figment 2 #3 is the passing of the dreaming torch.  Dreamfinder is lost, and a new Dreamfinder is needed.  In this case Capri steps forward giving us a payoff to her earlier introductions.  And this young lady has a spark of adventure  merged with her dreaming.  She is truly a fine heir to Blair Mercurial which is made even better by the fact that she's not giving up on the original dreamer yet!

Jim Zub as writer continues to build the fun of dreaming and captures the spirit of the Dreamfinder character even while passing the torch onto a new hero.  Ramon Bachs includes some great Easter Eggs, including the redecoration of the Academy with some images that will delight Disney animation fans.  

Figment 2 continues to be fun adventurous all-ages adventure.  The use of Capri puts a strong female dreamer into the front of the story, but even young boys can cheer for this hero.  The story, while also being all-ages, is also dark and action-packed.  But one must remember while still in darkness there is hope and perhaps doubt can be overcome!