Case 8: DISNEY

The Case

Disney Corporation – A masterclass in Diversification

Disney has different meanings depending on the audience in question. To some, it is a company that produces animated films, to others, a theme park, to others a large store in the middle of the mall which every child wants to visit, and every mum wants to avoid and lastly it could mean a dream cruise-liner for unforgettable family holidays. A true masterclass in the subject of Diversification, one thing remains central to all of Disney’s businesses, a mouse called Mickey, a duck called Donald and such classic characters that have become synonymous with the organisation

When Walt, alongside his brother Roy started what is today known as Disney corporation in 1923, they could not have predicted how successful the company would become. In just a few days, (October 16th to be exact), the organisation will celebrate 96 years of thriving existence, most of which saw the organisation increasing in worth and value. It is unbelievable that Walt was driven to create this company by the sheer joy of creativity and the fulfilment that comes from bringing happiness to others. He was documented as saying “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”, at the July 1955 opening of Disneyland Anaheim.
I could go on and on about Disney corporation, however, in staying true to the Life MBA series, I will, as with the others, simply focus on what lessons we can learn from Disney.

Revisiting my point about Diversification, it is a well-known fact that before diversifying its business, Disney first established itself as a leader in the American animation industry. Additionally, in spite of the extensive diversification in the corporation, the characters drawn by Walt as far back as 1928 remain central to every offshoot business unit. So first lesson to us as individuals: I hear a lot of talk about multiple streams of income being the way to become very wealthy, and by inference successful. Our pursuit of this often involves ‘diversifying’ from our main concerns, but my question is do you have a core, which you keep central to all you do? The ‘multiple core syndrome’, as I call it accounts for most of the burnout and strain felt when taking on a lot of tasks. Just think, you probably know 2 people involved in a lot but while one person is constantly stressed, the other isn’t. For the less stressed person, it’s not just time management skills in play, most times, it’s the fact that the tasks, though many, are united at the core.

Secondly, distinguish the activities that you are skilled in and which consistently deliver value, from the one-off activities which you succeeded in. A few months back I watched “The Upside” featuring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston. I vividly remember a scene in the movie when Philip (played by Bryan) handed Dell (played by Kevin) a $50,000 cheque. Dell had created what I considered to be an unimpressive painting, which Philip skilfully helped him sell. Having never earned that amount of money, Dell immediately assumed he had the skills to be a painter, to which Philip wisely advised against, saying the money should perhaps be used to pursue a genuine passion which Dell had the skill for. Moral of the story, not everything that earned you an income is your life’s purpose – it could have been accidental!

So, the question again is “what drives you? What problems keep you awake at night and what infuriates you and awakens the genius in you?”. Once you’ve answered that, the next question is what skills do you have or what skills can you develop to enable you to address those concerns that pull at your heart’s strings? Then, find a coach and brainstorm with them for your next steps. If you want to discuss strategy, of course, I’m here, so just reach out.

Till we see next month, remember to keep central what gives you the biggest advantage as you DIVERSIFY to exploit opportunities central to your core.