Walt Disney: Management Principles

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Walt Disney is one of the most renowned names of modern entertainment history and he is also remembered as an entrepreneur who has also changed the face of entertainment history by creating memorable characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and many other cartoon characters. His company initially named the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio was established in the year 1923 which was later named Walt Disney Productions in 1929. The company is a leader in animation film making and recently they have ventured into live-action movie-making too. They also own the television networks of ABC and ESPN. The name Walt Disney is a brand itself and it is gaining in popularity (Jackson, pp. 470-471).

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In recent times the World saw the emergence of a global recession that had hit most of the industry simultaneously. But we will be astonished to know that the Disney Company is one of the very few companies which was unaffected by the recession. And this is due to the nature of their business along with a strong management protocol followed by the company (Croce, pp. 91-103).

From the very start of the company, Walt Disney, along with his brother Roy O. Disney had guided the company with a visionary attitude. He was the pioneer of making animation movies along with a host of immortal characters. Not only with these animation characters, but his creation stopped he also envisioned a host of entertainment and theme parks which later became a huge source of income for the company. Now, Disney is one of the most important figures in the entertainment industry because of his vision, entrepreneur, international businessman, and above all a figure who has created some characters that will always be immortal in the true sense (Jackson, pp. 470-471).


In the year 1923, Walt Disney and his brother Roy started their company in a small rented office in Los Angeles. “It was this time they made some short animated films (also there were a few live-action films too) called the Alice Comedies” (Jackson, pp. 470-471). It was at this time Walt Disney realized that his concept of making animation films was novel and he sensed that he can succeed in this business if he kept on creating these types of animated characters. The staff was increasing in number and they soon changed their address.

In the year 1925, Disney’s started the construction of the Disney Brothers Studio. For the next 14 years, many important characters developed in the studio, and most of them became the signature of the company. But the most popular of all the creations of Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse was created in the year 1928. Still, now it is the most popular of all the creations and is simultaneously used in all the logos and symbols of Walt Disney Company’s products (Croce, pp. 91-103).

The next turning point of the company came when Walt Disney started his first full-length animated feature called ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (Wright 303-317). This movie brought both critical acclaim and commercial success for the company and was important at that stage of business. This success helped the company in a huge financial way and he decided to make other movies. Mickey Mouse was steadily gaining popularity (we have to remember in the case that at that time the most popular cartoon character was Popeye the Sailor).

But the importance of the success of Snow White was in some other parts. Disney stepped into the Golden Age of Animation with Snow White. Cartoon series’ featuring all the prominent characters like “Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and others” (Deligonul and Cavusgil, pp. 155-167) were gaining popularity and along with they were working on some animated movies like “Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Pinocchio” (Deligonul and Cavusgil, pp. 155-167). At this point of time, it is worth mentioning that all the staff training films during the Second World War were created by the Walt Disney Company (Wright, pp. 303-317).

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There are many such cases where Disney has achieved huge success, both financially and critically. But one of the management master strokes of Walt Disney was to crate theme parks for entertainment. It was a novel concept at that time and it has earned the company billions of dollars. Disneyland was the first kind of amusement park and it is one of the most popular tourist spots in America. There is also several Disneyland all around the World like in Paris, Singapore, etc. Other amusement parks like Adventure land, Fantasyland, etc were also his brainchild.


Walt Disney personally believed in four core concepts of management, and these concepts are “to dream, to believe, to dare and at last to do the thing” (Wright, pp. 303-317). Researchers mention that the success of Disney was basically due to his “10 renowned management principles” (Croce, pp. 91-103). And these 10 principles are as follows:

  1. Value for the dreams of everyone” and try to make sure that “everyone’s dreams come true” (Wright, pp. 303-317).
  2. Believe the concept thoroughly by heart.
  3. Always treat a customer with the warmth of a guest.
  4. All for one and one for all” (Wright, pp. 303-317) and this shows the unity of the company altogether.
  5. Sharing the spotlight and the success with everyone who is involved with the project that has been praised.
  6. Dare to do the thing” (Wright, pp. 303-317).
  7. Practice more to make the job more perfect.
  8. Make your elephant fly” (Wright, pp. 303-317), that is giving wings to the imagination and also carefully watching all around to get inspiration.
  9. Give utmost importance to the storyboards which ultimately are the skeleton of a film or cartoon.
  10. The last, but not the least point is to give maximum attention to the details of any project, which will ensure that the project does not fail (Deligonul and Cavusgil, pp. 155-167).


In his first motto which Disney called “make everyone’s dream come true” (Wright, pp. 303-317) is one of the most important paradigms of the management concepts of Walt Disney. He backed his employees and pushed them to develop their creative talents. In this issue, we can mention that he employed many persons called “Imagineers” whose job was to dream and develop their creative talents. The second idea helps the employee to believe in the ideas of the company. Disney’s guided principle of “never a customer, always a guest” is generally for the theme parks. Still to this day every visitor gets unique treatment as a guest if he or she visits the Disney Theme Parks anywhere in the World. This is one of the most prominent examples of a company treating its clients personally. The heartwarming reception in the theme parks will solve a lot of problems in the parks (Croce, pp. 91-103).

Teamwork is one of the very important agendas in the motto of Walt Disney. Teamwork, here at Disney is something that helps to intensify loyalty and commitment towards the company. On the behalf of the company ensures the maximum comfort of the employees and this enables the employees to give their 100% for the development of the company (Deligonul and Cavusgil, pp. 155-167).

The concept of sharing the spotlight is unique in this case. Here Disney tied with some other companies like Nestles, General Motors for various reasons. However big or small the company maybe they are all equally treated with respect and honor in Disney. Walt Disney believed to take high risks and his penchant for taking risks has yielded some great benefits. He always believed that calculated risks taken on strong fundamental grounds will only yield more profit, and he had proved this in his life (Wright, pp. 303-317).

Disney had stressed word practice. All the employees of Disney are trained in Disney University and if an employee is not performing up to the mark he is re-trained in his work.

Training in the basic components of the job along with instilling the core beliefs and ideas of the company is the main focus of the custom-made training program in Disney (Deligonul and Cavusgil, pp. 155-167).

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Walt Disney gave huge stress on the importance of planning. Here he mentioned that planning is divided into two parts, one is long term and the other one is short term and the other is long term. The successful alignment of both of the plans can surely make wonders.

Walt Disney personally believed in the fact that alternative creativity requires space to grow and the company must provide with essential infrastructure to help it to grow into a bigger concept. This nurturing of small-time planning into big-time ventures are one of the very important success stories here in Disney (Wright, pp. 303-317).

Attention to the storyboard was another motto of Disney. Ultimately the most important revenue-earning part of Disney was the animated cartoons and the live action. Disney believed that storyboards clear all the technical complexities of a movie and it is really helpful to convey the ideas of the director to all of the crew. It ultimately enhances communication. In modern cases this helps to conceptualize any target, or successfully plan any work, in any sector, from corporate to the Government, even it can be applied to solve a simple domestic problem (Deligonul and Cavusgil, pp. 155-167).

The final principle of Disney was to “give details the top billing” (Jackson, pp. 470-471). It shows the importance of carefully looking at the details of any project. To achieve perfection in any field one must look to the details of the most importance. Another important aspect of Disney was that he very clearly understood the balance between the financial aspects of the company along with the creative balance in the products from his company. This always ensured that the ultimate effort match the outcome (Wright, pp. 303-317).


Walt Disney was “one of the greatest minds in the 20th century, a true visionary genius along with a very successful businessman” (Croce, pp. 91-103). One of the most important features of Walt Disney is that he had blended artistic excellence with commercial success. His management principles have proved successful not only to his company but many other companies too. Any person who is managing a company can learn many things from his ideas.

Works Cited

  1. Croce, Paul Jerome. A Clean and Separate Space: Walt Disney in Person and Production. Journal of Popular Culture 25.3, (2006): 91-103.
  2. Deligonul, Seyda and Tamer Cavusgil. Entrepreneuring as a puzzle: an attempt to its explanation with truncation of subjective probability distribution of prospects. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal 2.2, (2008): 155-167.
  3. Jackson, Kathy Merlock. The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. The Journal of American Culture 30.4, (2007): 470-471.
  4. Wright, Chris. Natural and social order at Walt Disney World; the functions and contradictions of civilizing nature. Sociological Review 54.2, (2006): 303-317.

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