Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Disney Way

Each year the principal chooses a book for the Leadership Team to read and discuss. It usually has a connection to our yearly theme (Dreams Begin Here) and usually has a management/ leadership thread. This type of book study has been a hallmark of the Leadership Team over the years. We read a chapter each week and then discuss it. We have been working on this book for a while, but today I reflected on what I have learned through the study of this book. These are some of my reflections as they relate to Chets Creek:

Disney had 4 simple steps: 1) Dream beyond the boundaries of today. 2) Believe in sound values. 3) Dare to make a difference. 4) And then go out and just do it: Dream, Believe, Dare, Do. I hope these are the same things I believe and act upon in my own professional life. I certainly hope that I still dream of possibilities and then dare to go for it! When I no longer believe that my dreams can come true, then it'll be time to retire!

  • In so many ways I think we have developed a culture at Chets that defines Walt's vision of a culture of innovation, mutual respect, and trust.
  • You can wait for something to happen or you can take control of your own dream and work to see it through.
  • Creative power can languish within a school simply because no one ever bothers to tap it. Give every member a chance to dream. I think of each of the teachers that I coach and wonder if I really give each of them a chance to live their dream. I certainly am living mine!
  • There is a difference between adequate and excellent and we must not compromise. It matters to the children that we teach! Superlative work sets the bar. Mediocrity is not an option.
  • Stand firm on your beliefs and principles. Follow your instincts.
  • Train extensively and reinforce the school's culture with new employees. This is one of the things I think we do well with our induction of new employees and our strong mentoring and coaching program.
  • Pay close attention to details. This is something we used to do well, but have to keep reminding ourselves of now. It's so easy to just accept the status quo and we have to constantly remind each other that details are so important.
  • Your most unhappy parents are your greatest source of learning. I'm not sure everyone agreed with this philosophy, but these are the ones telling you how you can improve if you can put your defenses down long enough to listen.
  • Go the extra mile yourself. When those you coach know you are counting on them and see your example, they will rise to levels beyond their own expectations of themselves.
  • Support, reward and empower employees. Encourage teachers to voice opinions and make suggestions. In fact, solicit their advice. We probably think we are better at this than we are!
  • Have fun! This is one that we do very well! We work hard but we also play hard!
Each of these ideas has been discussed at length at the Leadership table. Diversity of opinion has sometimes been strong but it is those that disagree with you that challenge you to raise the level of your thinking. When we lack this tension of diverse opinions in our Leadership meetings, I think we leave dissatisfied, wondering if we are wasting our time. We cannot surround ourselves with people that all think like we do and think we will move forward. We are at our best when we can disagree - stating our opinions in a trusting professional atmosphere and then coming to a consensus that we can all agree with. That is when we stand strongest and realize our collective dream!


Mathew said...

You might also like "Disney War" the story of Michael Eisner's rise and fall at Disney. It's equally educational.

Suzanne said...

"Dream beyond the boundries of today." In my opinion, we do this extremely well. We are always looking for a way to deepen our work and this year's technology push has certainly set the bar higher. We've opened the door to endless possibilities and I can't wait to see where it takes us next!

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach said...

Rock on. Dream big! Aim high! And don't go home empty handed.

Great post.