Disney to Teach Fresh Approaches to Business

With the International Baking Industry Exposition just days away, many exhibitors and organizations are making final preparations for the show.
The Disney Institute, for instance, reports that it has been working with the American Bakers Association and the American Institute of Baking to custom-design a program for the baking industry.
Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine asked Bruce Jones, programming director for the Celebration, Fla.-based institute, what bakers should expect from the educational program.
In our exclusive Q&A, he explains why you should attend the program, which runs during the mornings of Oct. 7-9 at IBIE in Orlando, Fla.
Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery: Seriously, what is the Disney Institute, and how can you help bakers run their businesses?
Bruce Jones:Disney Institute is actually one of the most recognized names in training and development. For more than 20 years, we’ve been taking business professionals behind the scenes or our resorts and theme parks to showcase the business behind the magic. Visiting onstage and backstage locations participants have the chance to meet with Disney leaders and see firsthand how business theory becomes standard operating theory. And the best part is that the Disney best practices we showcase are proven and can be adapted to any business regardless of size.
SF&WB: How will the Disney Institute tailor its program to the baking industry?
Jones: We’ve been working with the ABA professional staff to make sure content for the Disney Institute programs is relevant to the industry and the conference attendee. I think our participants will be surprised at how similar Disney is to their organizations. For one thing, we have a significant culinary and food & beverage operation on-site, so we know that the strategies and techniques we’ll be showcasing apply to ABA members. But, just as important, we all have clients and customers to take care of. We may not talk about ovens, shipping and the technical aspects of baking, but we’ll spend a lot of time on equally important business issues like effective leadership, building a strong corporate culture, delivering consistently excellent service and instilling pride in your employees.
SF&WB: Who are the presenters, what are their qualifications, and what do they know about the baking industry?
Jones: All of our facilitators are leaders in the organization or have or held frontline leadership positions. And most have held similar positions with other organizations. This gives us a team that’s remarkably broad in its knowledge and experience. Not only are they Disney experts, but they’re dynamic and entertaining. All of our programs stress the importance of Cast Members (Disney-speak for employees) in delivering the product or service, and that’s certainly true when it comes to our facilitators and the Disney Institute educational experience.
SF&WB: Please give us some specifics on how the Disney Institute will help with leadership, management, loyalty and service?
Jones: The leadership program will look at how you can passionately paint a vision for your team — how to organize people, engage them and get them to commit to the organization.
With great leaders in place, the next piece is management — how you recruit and train the best employees, communicate with them and care for them. It’s all about creating a positive supportive corporate culture.
In the service portion of the program, we’ll examine how you can create consistent service quality. We’ll explore a strategy for exceeding guest expectation and paying attention to detail.
After service, we’ll take a look at the topic of loyalty. We’ll examine how you can go from conducting transactions with your customers to creating real relationships with them, and how you can use emotional connections to enhance relationships with employees as well as customers.
SF&WB: Who should attend? What if I’m a plant manager or the owner of a small company? Isn’t this just for Fortune 100 businesses?
Jones: Anybody who wants to improve business practices of their organization should attend the program — from front line employees to senior-level executives. No matter where you sit in an organization, you’ll find tools and strategies that are adaptable to your scope of influence. Our Disney Institute clients run the range from independent “mom ‘n’ pop” establishments to Fortune 100 companies.
SF&WB: If I can only attend one day of the program, how do I determine which one is right for me?
Jones: The Disney Institute Web site (www.DisneyInstitute.com) has a great analysis tool called the Starting Point. It takes about five to seven minutes to complete and, based on your responses, it will guide you to the Disney Institute content that would be most helpful to you.
SF&WB: How will the Disney Institute program help bakers manage or solve these problems?
Jones: Disney Institute does a great job of helping you see your business challenges in a new light. It’s a chance to think differently about your business and discover new ideas that you may have never thought possible before. I won’t say that our programs are “motivational seminars,” but I do think that there’s something about being immersed in the Disney environment. It’s seeing the business practices we teach and experiencing the results of those practices firsthand that’s incredibly inspirational and motivational.
SF&WB: What if I have some specific issues that are unique to my business? How can the Disney Institute help me?
Jones: Hopefully, that will become clear to you through the programs we’ll offer in October. If ABA participants want to learn more detail about a specific topic or topics, we offer an in-depth three-day program on each topic — people management, service, leadership and loyalty, as well as another on organizational creativity. These are open-enrollment programs that are offered throughout the year at both the Disneyland Resort in California and the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. We also offer a variety of workshops, seminars and customized programs for groups.
SF&WB: Give me one irrefutable reason I can use to convince my company to attend the sessions. My boss is going to say this is a Mickey Mouse program, so to speak.
Jones: Who wouldn’t want to learn about how to run a business based on one of the most pre-eminent companies in the world? Disney Institute immerses companies in proven business philosophies that were originated by Walt Disney himself and have stood the test of time. These are business practices that have set the benchmark for successful companies around the world.
More than one million alumni during the past 20 years have told us that Disney Institute programs are an incredible value and some of the best money they have ever spent.
SF&WB: Realistically, how much can I learn in just 60 minutes? What can I take back to my company?
Jones: I think participants will be surprised at how much they will learn. As I said, we’ve been in the training business for more than 20 years, so we’ve learned what Disney practices tend to resonate the most with our participants. Having worked in advance with the ABA professional staff, I think that will be especially true in October.  
SF&WB: Are there future opportunities for the Disney Institute to tailor a daylong program to my company?
Jones: Absolutely. There are several program options that can be customized for any organization. As we did with the baking industry, our team collaborates with every client to determine what the company’s goals and objectives are (i.e. customer satisfaction, employee turnover). Then, we come up with ways to showcase Disney’s best practices in a way that will help meet those goals.
SF&WB: Will there be discounts for my family to attend Disney World’s attractions?
Jones: There sure are. All IBIE attendees and their families and guests can order special meeting/convention tickets online through www.IBIE2007.com. SF&WB