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Disney: making the kingdom magic again

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in Dealing with Bosses,Office Management

For the first time in a long time, all appears quiet on the Disney front. That doesn’t mean nothing’s happening, only that the CEO soap opera is over.

In fact, good things are happening at Disney, including many projects set in motion during the end of Michael Eisner’s reign. But credit new chief Bob Iger for good moves too, including last year’s blending of the Disney animation studios into Pixar.

Iger came in and unshackled a bunch of veteran executives who’d been locked up in the Magic Kingdom, afraid to make decisions. Gone is the micromanaging, imperious and bullying boss. Iger rules by consensus and hands out credit.

His modus operandi:
  • He turned Monday morning meetings from lectures into conversations.

  • He personalized his office with family photos and a cigar store Indian.

  • He moved the studio chief up from the second floor to his own, the sixth.

  • He talks with the company’s foot soldiers. He recently spent half a day with his game developers, in town from England for a brainstorming session.

  • He reaches out to former employees and board members.

  • He reassigned a strategic planner seen as Eisner’s “top cop” and put him in a role better suited to his talents: negotiating a deal with cable giant Comcast.

  • Best of all, it’s what he doesn’t do that most defines Iger. He doesn’t dump on people’s ideas with creativity-crushing remarks like, “Where’s my ‘wow?’”
Iger’s peaceable kingdom seems primed for a long run. It’s easy to define his early success: Disney’s stock price shot up 51 percent in the 15 months after he took over.

—Adapted from “How Bob Iger Unchained Disney,” Ronald Grover, BusinessWeek.

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