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Communicating the Disney way

Tags: Leadership | Save time

3rd September

My favourite business book is “If Disney ran your hospital” by Fred Lee. As the title suggests, he shares lessons that hospitals can learn from how Disney does things (a surprising amount, it turns out).

One thing he mentions is Disney’s decision-making criteria. They tell their staff to use these criteria when choosing between different courses of action:

  1. Safety
  2. Courtesy
  3. Show
  4. Efficiency

In other words, because “safety” trumps everything else, if an employee is chatting with a guest and sees a child about to fall, they will break off from the conversation to make sure the child is safe. If everything is safe, they then have courtesy as their key driver, and so on.

On first hearing, this sounds a bit weird. After all, I have never heard anyone say “well, my Disney holiday was safe”.

But it’s very powerful. Since all Disney’s staff do it, it makes their decision making (a) easy (b) consistent (c) fast and – most importantly – (d) right.

Imagine if your company had equally clear criteria for how they made decisions. All that extra time you would save; the extra understanding and respect for others’ decisions you would have; the extra alignment it would bring.

Now imagine that your team made decisions in this way.

Now imagine that you did.

The “only” thing you need to be able to do this?

Create your own list of decision-making criteria. Having just a few of them, in order of importance, makes everything so much easier (It’s certainly better than having “our nine equal pillars of communication”, which all have equal standing, sometimes conflict and can slow things down)!

Creating it may take time. But you’ll get it back many times over, as you and your team communicate with more clarity, purpose and speed.

Action Point

Work with your team to identify your key decision-making criteria. And then stick to them. The better you do this, the quicker and better your communications will be.

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