Book review: Disney U

Emma De Vita reviews the book by Doug Lipp on the Walt Disney Company's staff training programme

Disney U
Disney U

What management lessons can be learnt from Mickey Mouse or Snow White? The Walt Disney Company has its own unofficial 'university', which not only provides training to its staff but also uses it to perpetuate Disney's company values and leadership lessons. The author, Doug Lipp, helped to create the first international version of the Disney University in Japan at Tokyo Disneyland and now spills the beans on what goes on inside the organisation that is known for its engaged and loyal employees. His mentor was Van France, the man who founded the university.

Lipp sets out a number of lessons in his book. Some come as no surprise, such as "capture hearts and minds", "simplify the complex" and "communicate globally". Some are more original, such as "it takes art and science". This lesson refers to the 'science' of keeping an operation such as Disneyland going, with all its attractions, restaurants and shops, while the "art" refers to maintaining the "feel" of Disneyland, as imparted by its employees. A large part of this comes down to ensuring levels of friendliness are pumped to the max. Who wants to watch a grumpy Snow White have a bad hair day, after all? Enthusiasm must be kept up day after day - just keep on smiling!

Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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