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The Walt Disney Creativity Strategy

16th March 2021,

This is a good all purpose strategy for creative thinking and is effective when used informally for team sessions, I use this exercise frequently when coaching or consulting with leaders of businesses, I find it very effective with leaders and teams.

So, think of an outcome you want to explore. The Disney strategy works well for any situation where you need to come up with a general plan, for example in a presentation or training.

You need to anchor spatially three states: the dreamer, the realist and the critic. Mark out three spaces on the floor, one for each state, so you can step onto them.

1) Dreamer position: 

This is where you create possibilities. Here you are a visionary, seeing the big picture. Be creative without restraint.

The Dreamer position mostly uses the visual representation systems.

Ask Yourself "What do I want"?

2) Realist Position:

This is where you organise your plans, evaluate what is realistically possible, think constructively and devise an action plan.

The realist position mostly uses the kinaesthetic representation system.

Ask yourself, "What will I do to make these plans a reality"?

3) Critic position:

This is the position where you test the plan, you are looking for the problems, difficulties and unintended consequences. Think of what could go wrong, what is missing and what the pay off's will be.

The critic position mostly uses the auditory representation system (Internal Dialogue)

Ask yourself, "What Could Go Wrong"?

If you do not have personal experiences of these states, then either:

1) Use the "as if " frame. What would it like to be like this?

2) Think of a role model who is good at the state and second position that person.

Once you have decided on the three positions , go through the following steps:

1) Think of a time when you were very creative without restraint and then  step into the dreamer spot. Relive that time. This will spatially anchor the resources of the dreamer state to that spot.

step out.

2) Break state

3) Think of a time when you constructively put an action plan into operation. Step into the realist position and relive that time, spatially anchor those resources there and then step out.

4) Break state

5)  Think of a time when you were able to constructively criticise a plan, with the intention of making it more effective. Step into the critic space and relive that time. Spatially anchor those resources there.

Step out

6) Break state

7) Take the outcome you want to explore and step into the dreamer space. Get into the dreamer state that you have anchored to that spot. Be creative about that outcome. Visualise as many possibilities as possible. Do not edit or evaluate : brain storm and look for all possibilities.

8) Next, step into realist position and think about your dreams. Organise the ideas into realistic sequence. How would you put these plans into practice? How could you accomplish these things? What is it realistic to achieve?

9) Then step into critic position and evaluate the plan. Explore what is missing and what is needed. What might go wrong? what's in it for you and for others? Is it ecological? The critic is not a hostile position. The positive intention of the critic is to make the plan better. The critic must criticise the plan , not the dreamer or the realist for putting it together

10) Finally, go back to the dreamer position and think of more possibilities in the light of the information you have gained from the realist and critic positions. Go through the three positions in any order that feels right until you are satisfied.

This exercise is an excellent team exercise. Many teams do not work well because they have a preponderance of one type of thinker. Teams with a lot of dreamers make wonderful plans but never action them. Teams with many realists jump in too soon and try to implement the plan before it is complete. Teams with lots of critics often do not get anywhere because no plan is perfect enough to pass the muster.

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