ELM17

Doug Lipp is a distinguished international consultant, eight-time author, and former head of training at the legendary Disney University. His latest book is the best-selling Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees.You can follow Doug on Twitter here or join Doug's LinkedIn group here.

Doug Lipp’s enlightening and entertaining talk started the final day of ELM17 with the energy we needed to get ready for our peer-to-peer workshops. Doug used his experience leading training at Disney University to convey how the right culture can drive improvements at any organization. Doug’s approach is to focus on several key lessons from Disney’s methods of training employees and ensuring that their guests are delighted. Some of the highlights included:

Fear as an obstacle: People sometimes resist change because they worry about losing momentum and that quality will decrease. But Doug believes that this is really a sign that they are afraid of looking like they don’t know what they’re doing in the new environment. Your role as a change agent is to give people permission to look and feel dumb for a while after they embrace the changes.

Simplify! Businesses deal with complex challenges, but they are easier to tackle when you simplify them with crystal clear priorities. For example, when describing the organization’s goals and principles to new employees, don’t bombard them with every company objective at once, but share the essence of the company’s values. “Don’t give them a vat of soup,” Doug offered. “Give them a bouillon cube.”

Keep “plussing the show”: Anyone can meet the minimum requirements. Once you’ve done that, keep everyone engaged so that you can build something special and differentiated. Empower employees to think of creative ways to contribute and improve the way you do business.

One of the examples of great engagement and quality that Doug shared was that of Snow White. When parents take their kids to Disney, the whole family is excited for a special experience. If they get to the park and meet Snow White only to find that she’s not in the mood to entertain children, then a wonderful day becomes a huge disappointment. She can’t have a bad day. And when she’s part of an organization whose culture supports great quality, she has the tools give that family a delightful experience.

ELM17 attendees don’t go to work in Snow White costumes, but the lessons still apply. A legal department environment that is open to change and innovation, communicates goals simply, and continuously improves quality is strongly positioned to achieve success. Even without the help of the Seven Dwarves.