Lessons from Disney

In my reading last week,  I came across an article from the Disney Institute titled “Leadership Lessons From Walt Disney: Perfecting The Customer Experience“.  As a connected learner and leader, I am always interested in ideas for improving improving service. The interesting part is taking time to consider how new ideas can be applied to another setting – K12 education in this case.

Consider these two quotes from the article:

At Disney Institute, we were recently reflecting on the phrase, “simple is the new smart,” and it reminded us of a leadership philosophy we share with our clients and training program attendeeskeep it simple so that everyone understands.”

Walt Disney was a master at this. One of the simplest, yet most powerful and timeless leadership lessons we have learned from Walt is: “You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.”


     Photo by Stephanie Schmidt (my daughter)

If you consider education through the perspectives  of “simple” and “build it for them” (the students), what would be different in education?   My initial thoughts include:

  • increase in play based learning
  • more creating and making
  • increase in choice
  • more self directed
  • multiple paths to experience learning, and a
  • focus on making technology (and I mean the whole area – hardware, software, access, digital resources) easier to use

What would you add to the “K12 by Disney” list?  Please share your insights to this idea by leaving a comment or connecting on Twitter

Additional Resources: 
Read the full  Disney article: Perfecting the Customer Experience


2 thoughts on “Lessons from Disney”

  1. I think it’s that “you don’t build it for yourself” bit – sometimes, I admit, I’m tempted to build it for myself. There are things I’m passionate about that I really want to share with my students, and sometimes they flop, because it’s my passion, and not theirs!

    I’m not sure how many of us “know what the people want”. I think the first big step is to open up opportunities for our students to feel comfortable talking about what they really want. If we keep moving forward with what we think they want, we continue to miss the point. Some of our students would say that what they want is to be told what to do, because that’s easier – I think the bigger issue we’re dealing with is how to get to what they actually want.

  2. Mark, I just finished writing my #OneWord2015 update post and there are connections in your post to my current thinking. The discipline of English truly lends itself to the exploration and analysis of life’s big ideas and problems/dilemmas. Through literature (of any genre), learners have access to perspectives that help shape their own thinking. The issue is, as I put it, “getting to yes”. The shift here is to choice: choice of texts, choice of product, choice of tool, choice of expression. Innovation, in English class, is about finding ways we can support students in learning many of the ‘traditional skills’ (essay writing) that they might need along with learning about and using digital literacies.

    To your list, I would add the notion of innovation, not as it pertains to technology integration and use, but as a lens through which to view the curriculum.

    And I love the idea of ‘simple’ and ‘build it for them’.


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