Walt Disney achieved success by effectively directing and guiding his employees towards a specific objective, as mentioned in his renowned quote (Disney Dreamer, 2008, 41). This belief in managing employee skills has significantly contributed to the company’s triumph throughout the last eighty years. Walter Alias Disney, co-founder of the Walt Disney Company, has transformed it into a multifaceted business conglomerate comprising of entertainment studios, theme parks, products, and other media productions.
In the summer of 1923, a man successfully established and managed an enterprise that has gained global recognition. The Walt Disney Company was founded in a small office in Los Angeles, California. The man, who had relocated from Kansas City, Missouri to California, aimed to showcase his creative talent in the film industry. His plan involved using a short film called “Alice in Wonderland” as a pilot film to enter the industry. Collaborating with his brother Roy, they formed “Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio,” which later became known as “Walt Disney Studio” based on Roy’s suggestion.
In October 16, 1923, Wall made his first breakthrough in the entertainment industry when a distributor named M. J. Hinkler signed a contract with the studio. The purpose was to release a series called “Alice Comedies” to the public. This event marked the official establishment of the Walt Disney Company (Corporate Disney, 2008). Walt Disney began to hire animators and collaborate with his distributor, Mr. Hinkler, in order to create Oswald cartoons. As financial constraints started to arise, Walt relied on Hinkler to provide the necessary funds to continue producing his series.
During this time, Walt Disney discovered that his distributor was secretly using his animators to create their own audio for the Oswald cartoons, going behind his back. Unfortunately, Hinkler owned the distributor rights, leaving Walt powerless. This incident prompted Walt Disney to make a promise to himself that he would own everything he created (Corporate Disney, 2008). Consequently, this event led to the development of the iconic Mackey Mouse cartoons and the subsequent rise in popularity of the Disney brand. Despite facing challenges such as the Flanagan difficulties, the company gradually grew under the guidance of the Disney brothers.
Despite facing obstacles, the Disney brothers persevered and eventually established themselves as an independent production company in Hollywood. In the 1920s, Walt Disney agreed to a marketer’s proposal to imprint Mackey Mouse on paper tablets for children, in need of the money. This marked the beginning of Disney’s venture into consumer products, making them one of the most renowned media brands worldwide.
The years during World War II (1939-1945) presented financial challenges for the company; however, Disney remained resilient. The studio not only produced educational films for the US government but also created animated comedies.
Following the war, Disney shifted its attention from cartoons to movies starring real actors. They also ventured into children’s TV shows in the 1950s. These endeavors ultimately led to the creation of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, a remarkable milestone for Disney.
In the 1960s, Disney showcased their dedication to providing wholesome entertainment by envisioning an educational and enjoyable destination in Florida. This idea became reality with the establishment of Walt Disney World.
Regrettably, Walt Disney did not witness the realization of his dream. Nonetheless, it was achieved after his demise. In October 1971, two months subsequent to the inauguration of Walt Disney World, Roy Disney also departed. Nevertheless, despite the loss of both siblings, the company is flourishing presently – not solely in America but globally. The enterprise persists in broadening its endeavors encompassing media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products. Functioning as a worldwide entertainment corporation, The Walt Disney Company has attained noteworthy fiscal triumph.
Disney, headquartered in Burbank California, has a workforce of more than 130,000 individuals. The corporation generates revenue through its diverse sectors: Media Networks (comprising television, radio, and the internet), Studio Entertainment (encompassing live-action and animated movies, music recordings, and video programming), Consumer Products (involving products and licenses for marketing and selling Disney characters and other intellectual property), and Parks and Resorts (including sales of tickets, hotel room bookings, and rentals at resort properties).
Disney has shown financial stability by consistently achieving positive net income for the past five years, according to year-end filings with the Security Exchange Commission (SEC). The Media Networks division accounts for about 41% of their primary revenue, while the Consumer Products segment generates approximately 7% of their total revenue. Moreover, Disney’s Parks and Resorts have been successful in generating revenue for the company.
Robert Alger, President and CEO of Walt Disney Company, stated that the company’s operating income in 2007 rose by 11% compared to the previous year. Alger attributed this financial success to Disney’s strong brands, high-quality creative intent, and its ability to promote and distribute content across different businesses and platforms. He emphasized that Disney’s unique capability enables ongoing growth and value for shareholders (Disney.com, 2007, 2).
The Walt Disney company owes its ongoing success to its ability to foster creativity, innovation, and excellence. It takes great pride in maintaining the enchanting atmosphere that is synonymous with Disney. Their slogan highlights their dedication to creating the happiest place on earth. People from all over the world visit to enjoy the whimsical and imaginative experience crafted by Walt Disney himself. This creativity has resulted in a multitude of beloved characters and a fantastical world that can be fully explored during a day spent at their theme parks.
The primary goal of the company is to spread joy among individuals, as mentioned in their mission statement. They are committed to maintaining “wholesome American values” and fostering creativity, aspirations, and imagination. Disney operates with a hierarchical system comprising a board of directors who work together and approve decisions under the guidance of CEO Bob Alger. It is important to note that Disney Corporation possesses subsidiaries such as Disney Studios and theme parks located in California.
Disney has operations in various locations around the world, such as Florida, Japan, Paris, and Hong Kong. In addition to these locations, Disney also includes consumer products and media networks. The unique business proposals of each entity require careful decision-making by the board of directors.
The fundamental values of Disney revolve around imagination and magic. They strongly believe in the power of childhood dreams and strive to create a culture that embraces wonder. This ideology serves as inspiration for employees to give their best effort and maintain the company’s exceptional standards. Furthermore, Disney follows Frederick’s principles when it comes to motivating and satisfying its workforce.
According to Herbage’s theory, motivation arises internally within individuals rather than being imposed by company policies. Disney offers its 130,000 employees worldwide various opportunities, including recognition for achievements, increased responsibility based on performance, growth in knowledge, chances for advancement, and improved maintenance items like wages, off-hour programs, and self-development opportunities. Disney recognizes that the staff plays a crucial role in delivering the magic necessary to meet customer expectations.
Disney’s theme parks have a culture that values quality, which depends on employees being fully committed. To foster this commitment, the organization emphasizes the idea of show business as its culture. Rather than just being hired for a job, employees are carefully chosen for specific roles in the show and are referred to as cast members. Instead of wearing uniforms, they wear costumes while performing in front of an audience of guests instead of customers. When interacting with guests, they are considered to be onstage but when in employee-only areas, they are considered to be backstage.
Before any interview, Disney presents applicants with a video before they fill out an application. This allows them to decide whether or not they agree with Disney’s expectations regarding appearance, guidelines, and transportation. Once selected for a role, cast members spend their first day at Disney University where they are taught Disney’s traditional values and that their roles are more than just jobs. They are responsible for creating magical moments for guests.
Disney’s cast members are given the authority to make appropriate decisions and display proper conduct during interactions with guests. The empowerment of the cast begins with a focus on “creating happiness” for individuals. Disney offers comprehensive training, ongoing communication, and reliable support systems to help the cast in making the right choices in each guest interaction. Cast members uphold standards of courtesy, efficiency, safety, and showmanship while aligning their personal values, traits, and behavior with those of the organization. Additionally, Disney follows ten principles that guide its operations: (1) Make Everyone’s Dreams Come True, (2) You Better Believe It, (3) Never a Customer, Always a Guest, (4) All for One and One for All, (5) Share the Spotlight, (6) Dare to Dare,(7) Practice ,Practice ,Practice,(8 )Make Your Elephant Fly ,(9 )Capture the Magic with Storyboards ,(10 )Give Details Top Billing(Capital Jackson1999). While all these principles are vital to company success,the first one fourth,and seventh principles have significant impact on employee motivation.The principle of “Make Everyone’s Dream Come True” emphasizes allowing employees to dream and nurture their creative abilities.Disney promotes creativity among all staff members.According to Capital and Jackson (1999), fostering expression is important and believed to help reduce turnover rates compared to competitors in the industry. The fourth principle, “All for One and One for All,” highlights the importance of teamwork and empowering employees.
Teamwork is defined as a way to cultivate strong loyalty, enthusiasm, and dedication. At the Disney Company, the priority is ensuring that every guest has a memorable and enjoyable experience, regardless of whose “Job” it is to pick up trash. This responsibility becomes shared by all employees (Capital and Jackson, 1999). The seventh principle, “Practice, Practice, Practice,” emphasizes the significance of consistent and ongoing training (Capital and Jackson, 1999). Initially, Disney’s training programs focused solely on the essential elements necessary to maintain operations.
The training at Disney in the early years included an orientation, on-the-job training, and recreational programs for employees. However, as Disney grew, there was a need for more focus on training and the employee environment. The objective of Disney University is to offer the best working environment possible. To achieve this goal, Disney implemented training programs to show investment in both employee and organizational growth. The term “Disney University” goes beyond just education and training (Cook, 1974).
The university has a dual focus on providing training and recognizing its responsibility to individuals, working to assist employees in reaching their personal and professional objectives. Simultaneously, the university also ensures that its own goals are met. The Disney University places great emphasis on upholding Walt Disney’s motivating philosophies and traditions. The university team not only prioritizes an employee’s education and growth but also their motivation, morale, communication skills, and physical work environment. Furthermore, the university organizes social and recreational activities for employees.
The Disney website states that the company takes pride in its innovation and creativity. To achieve this, they hire diverse employees and have dedicated leaders who lead by example. During busy periods, Disney adopts cross-service practices where supervisors and managers temporarily set aside their usual responsibilities to help staff in various areas such as food service, janitorial service, ticketing, and assisting guests at attractions.
The cross-servicing concept enables cast members to witness management in action and learn valuable lessons about good behaviors and proper job/people skills. The Walt Disney Company organizes service awards dinners annually at its theme parks worldwide. These events are attended by all the company vice presidents, and Disney employees receive various rewards such as plaques, jewelry, and other merchandise based on their years of service. Whenever an employee goes above and beyond, their exceptional actions are reported to Michael Eisner, who personally sends them a letter of gratitude (Alonzo, 1994).
During the Christmas season, Disneyland is exclusively opened by the Walt Disney Company for its employees and families, with park management handled by company executives. Walt Disney offers a wide range of recreational, social, cultural, and exclusive activities for its employees and their families. These activities encompass diverse sports programs, theater workshops, community services, unique visits to the “Magic Kingdom” accessible only to employees, film festivals and previews, a variety of travel and entertainment opportunities, as well as cozy break areas and dining options for employees.
Employees at Disney, referred to as Cast Members, receive various benefits such as housing assistance, referrals to doctors and dentists, and discounts from multiple merchants (Cook, 1974). Cast members are entitled to health, dental, and life insurance packages and are granted free access to any Disney park through complimentary theme park passports. Additionally, they can avail of discounts on products and merchandise. Disney associates enjoy education reimbursement, stock options, and eligibility for service awards.
Those who have children and live near Anaheim or Orlando can utilize the childcare centers provided by Disney while they attend work. The numerous advantages serve as strong incentives for employees and contribute to employee retention. Disney’s workplace incorporates notable values such as innovation, quality, community, storytelling, optimism, and decency. These fundamental values play a pivotal role in Disney’s success and can be observed in every product they create, ensuring consumers receive the finest entertainment available. In 2006, Disney was ranked as the top choice in Businessman’s “best places to start a career” list (Disney 2006, Business Week).
Disney’s strong on-campus recruiting, solid benefits, and collaborative culture have positioned the entertainment giant at the top of Business Week’s ranking for new college graduate employers. Disney prioritizes creating a fun-filled atmosphere both for those who work there and those who enjoy Disney’s products. This approach not only motivates guests to have an enjoyable experience but also encourages them to return, ultimately generating revenue for the company. Walt Disney’s remarkable ability to bring his imagination to life has created a living organism that attracts individuals from across the globe.
This business has a rich legacy that spans across generations and continues to captivate the interest of future generations, who eagerly anticipate experiencing it and passing it on to their own children. Walt Disney was a true visionary, transforming fantasies and stories into a thriving enterprise that seems to have no end in sight. He understood the importance of teamwork and acknowledged that the success of any endeavor is a result of collective effort. In his organization, there was a deep appreciation for each individual and a strong commitment to serving the public. Walt Disney’s management philosophy remains relevant and applicable even today.
Disney is a successful model. Their effective techniques for motivating employees have minimal room for improvement. By prioritizing associates over profits, the company has gained worldwide popularity and recognition. It is expected that the Walt Disney Company will continue to grow and maintain profitability in the coming years. This can be attributed to management’s ability to foster a culture of continuous improvement, innovation, and excellence, which are fundamental to the company’s ongoing success.