It can seem like the reason that Disney is so successful is truly a dose of magic.

But when you break it down, they have a real formula for excellence – excellence in leadership, creating and sustaining the right culture, and pursuing client satisfaction. All of the pieces of that formula are important, but even after putting them together, what truly makes Disney successful is their ability to bring people back again and again. And to do that, they need connection with their customers, and to empower their customers to tell the stories that make other people want a piece of the Disney experience too.

That isn’t much different to the way business development works for lawyers and law firms.
Continue Reading Connection Brings People Back – Business Development Lessons from Disney

Success that starts with leadership and continues with having the right people makes complete sense – but all of that doesn’t mean much if your clients aren’t satisfied. And that’s the third piece in Disney’s philosophy.

Disney’s strategy is to exceed their guests’ expectations by paying attention to every detail of the delivery.  Paying attention doesn’t cost money, just time – and that’s something that firms can be doing as well.  While I recognize that time does equal money for law firms, what Disney says next makes sense – there can be big wows (like building a new rollercoaster), but paying attention to the small details changes the experience – it’s easier to do 100 things 1% better than to do 1 thing 100% better. When you link all those little wows together, you create a big wow.
Continue Reading Success Requires Client Satisfaction – the Disney Philosophy

Starting at the top is essential, but you need the right mix of people within your firm to really be successufl. Disney calls this “cast excellence.” The corporate culture at Disney is, by design, well-defined, clear to all, and goal-oriented. It can seem challenging to implement this at a law firm, but I’ve seen it done (take a look at our member firm in Australia, Hall & Wilcox, with their emphasis on Smarter Law). Jeff Williford of the Disney Institute challenged firms to think about their corporate culture, and whether the existing culture is what they want – internal branding is important, as is communicating your culture up front and early.

If you communicate your culture up-front, others can make the decision if they want to engage with you or not.  For example – Disney doesn’t allow anyone with visible tattoos or mohawks to work there, and they communicate that early so people can self-select out. Similarly, Hall & Wilcox has a transparent culture of collaboration and community, with a fully open plan in their offices – when you interview, you know right away whether that’s something that would work for you or not.
Continue Reading Success Requires the Right Culture – the Disney Philosophy

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a keynote session focused around Disney’s approach to business excellence. The recap I shared has been among one of my most popular posts, and the advice provided by Jeff Williford from the Disney Institute proves to be timeless. Despite a changing marketplace, the tenets that underlie their success remain the same – and that’s perhaps why Disney has proven to be so successful in a sustainable way.

I’d like to break down the post into a series to revisit the key points that Jeff raised in his speech, and why they’re still relevant today. Although his presentation was about how Disney creates a truly magical experience, there are a lot of parallels for the legal industry – we’re also a service industry after all!  Any of the particularly important points that relate to law firms will be in bold throughout the post.

He told the audience that Disney employs more than 60,000 people from 65 countries, with 10% of those being interns, and warned us that his presentation on Disney’s approach to business excellence would be like drinking water from a firehose. But he did say that Walt Disney reminded everyone in 1955 that “it all started with a mouse.” (Which inspires me to encourage all of us to think about how and why we got started – where are OUR roots? Who is OUR mouse?)
Continue Reading Success Starts with Leadership Excellence – the Disney Philosophy

As you know if you’ve been following my Twitter stream, or checking Zen in the last couple of months, last week, I attended the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference in Orlando.

Tuesday morning, the conference business sessions officially kicked off with our keynote from Jeff Williford from the Disney Institute, who talked about Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence.  When he began by telling us that he’d be speaking for 90 minutes, I think the audience was worried, but the presentation was so engaging and informative that the time really flew.  And although his presentation was about how Disney creates a truly magical experience here, there were a lot of parallels for the legal industry – we’re also a service industry after all!  Any of the particularly important points that relate to law firms will be in bold throughout the post.

He told the audience that Disney employs more than 60,000 people from 65 countries, with 10% of those being interns, and warned us that his presentation on Disney’s approach to business excellence would be like drinking water from a firehose. But he did say that Walt Disney reminded everyone in 1955 that "it all started with a mouse."


Continue Reading Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence – An LMA Recap