The Walt Disney Way

Published: 1/18/2007 2:41:34 PM

I've been reading the colossal (860 pages) biography of Walt Disney by Neal Gabler and aside from the fascinating details of his life, personality and influence on American culture, I noted a number of interesting themes throughout his life that bear directly on entrepreneurship.  This starts a series on my thoughts about how his beliefs and actions relate to what it means to start and run a successful entrepreneurial company.

Walt Disney had an obsession with quality.  In fact, he believed that the quality of his animation studio's productions was the main differentiating factor between his films and those of other studios. 

As an example of how he improved quality, in the 1920's and 1930's, when Walt Disney Productions produced such classics as Snow White, Fantasia and the Mickey Mouse character, Disney spared no expense in requiring his entire animation crew to attend weekly fine art classes held at their Los Angeles studio by illustrious Chouinard School of Art professors.  He believed that continually educating his employees would result in a sufficiently higher quality product that audiences would have no choice but to notice and appreciate the difference.

He was right.  Disney's animations swept the world and created animated icons that exist to this day.  His focus on quality separated his company from the pack of other animation studios at the time. 

If you want to separate your company from others in your industry, ask yourself some questions: how can you increase the quality of your customer's experience with your product or service?  Can you measure it?  How do you know what your customers care about?  When and how will you ask them?  Are you afraid to ask?

Don Jones


Don Jones
CEO, VentureDeal

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