The real enemy to having an inspiring leadership culture

Fact: Consistency is the hallmark of world class customer service.

Insight: When an organizational culture doesn’t insist on paying attention to every detail, then employees and leaders will default to using their personal interpretation of what’s critical.

This is deadly to world class consistency.


Disney’s legendary attention to detail is driven by intentionally developing inspiring leaders. Here’s an example from yesterday, Valentine’s Day 2015.

Disney Customer Service (obviously Disney never uses the word Customer but i’m using it here to focus on external business world everyday language). Follow along with some Disney insider narration.

There’s a section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park that includes a replica of a traveling roadside carnival in small town America from a time long ago…


Disney Management Keynote Speaker


The traveling carnival would set up in small towns where there was ample space for their carnival rides. It was often in a large, relatively unused parking lot. Notice the faint parking space lines? See the cracked pavement? Who makes the connection? Probably no one. So why do it?


Disney Customer Service Speaker


It’s not uncommon for painted white tires to become a homemade curb marker. Tires are used because they’re no longer safe to drive on. They are rubber which is long-lasting. However, these are made of concrete because Guests Customers will use them as seats (see Guest Customer on far right?). By the way, constant sitting on these tires would eventually wear them down and make them unsafe.


Disney Customer Service Speaker


Guests People walk by all day (Guest Customer on right, shadow on left) and never notice nor care.


Disney Customer Service Speaker


Notice the difference in tread? Never before right? But now you see that attention to detail very clearly. Why do that?


Disney Customer Service Speaker


Only one of ten tires has it’s logo (GOOD~YEAR) showing.


Disney Customer Service Speaker


Just a bunch of random, worn out, abandoned tires being repurposed to save money. Just like in real life.


Disney Customer Service Speaker


Many organizations won’t pay attention to customer experience details because most customers will never notice many of the things being done for them. The logic, of course, is that if the customer won’t notice, don’t waste time and money.

Profit is the goal. (Or is profit the reward?) Depends on the leader’s vision.

Fear (of not meeting financial goals) is the enemy, not failure.

Failure is not permanent. Fear insidiously lasts a lifetime.

Quiz time: Are you an inspiring leader or an insidiously fearful leader?

The harsh reality is this: No one on your team will be more inspired than you. Without inspiration a so-called ‘leader’ is simply a manager.

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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.


  1. Love the message and content. I had not noticed any of this. The asphalt and parking lines I just would not have made the connection. So much attention to detail everywhere, so fun to have it pointed out.

  2. Donna, in the weirdest way, it’s interesting how it’s invisible to Guests yet screams ‘Captain Obvious’ to insiders (Cast Members).

    Knew you’d enjoy it. 🙂

  3. So captain, does someone in imagineering document all the ideas/details. If I worked for disney and wanted to research all the ideas that go into a new project and details is that recorded somewhere? After the fact of course, I know during it would be secret.

    captain Curious.

  4. Probably. In 30 years, i’ve never seen such a thing, nor has there ever been a felt need to see it. Why would there be? It’s crazy how the culture just seeps into your bloodstream.

    Maybe things came to me by the ‘law of attraction’ – you attract like-minded things, people vibe, etc.

    The saying, ‘Birds of a feather flock together’.

    Anyway, hope that answers your question. 🙂

  5. Hey, if anything, the lack of official documentation has fueled a sub-industry in the Disney fan community. There have been so many people who have followed their dreams and left previous jobs to feed their Disney hunger.
    I think you even go to church with one of them. At least, I noticed he also posted pictures of your church festival around that same time as you did.

  6. Craig, Holy Family is full of Disney folk. 🙂
    PS. There’s plenty of inside documentation. That’s how the stuff gets designed in in the first place. It just isn’t accessible. It’s a need to know basis. 🙂

  7. Totally makes sense. By “official”, I should have said “publicly published” 🙂

  8. It might be a little like publishing love letters between two people. There’s a need to know basis, and everyone else just feels their love, even if they don’t know the intimate details.

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