The secret shortcut to Business Excellence

Disney Raglan Road logo
Disney menu. Writing from here and Disney Springs today.

The secret shortcut to Business Excellence

Okay, ready for this?

Disney’s secret organizational vibrancy shortcut?

The long way is the shortcut.

Have said it before and will say it again, at Disney, it’s not the Magic that makes it work, it’s the work that makes it Magic.

Chances are you were amazing

Disney Springs entrance sign
Writing from here today.

Chances are you were amazing

In fact, i’d bet a dollar (my top bet, and the only amount i bet when i’m sure i’ll win) you were inspiring.

Remember what you did and how it felt afterward when you could smile and know you did what you thought you couldn’t?

There are certain truths that when we hear them, we easily nod in agreement.

How about this one…

When there’s something we are highly motivated to do or not do, we get it done.

While this book contains the world-class organizational vibrancy basics, none of that timeless wisdom matters if you aren’t compelled to burn the ships.

Had a High School science teacher say, “Repetition is the mother of all learning.”

Burn the ships (BTS), or some other mantra that inspires you the way BTS inspires me – that’s what we need to tell ourselves over and over (and over).

One more thing, chances are you are still amazing.

i’ll bet a dollar on that too.

What happens to business excellence when there’s no urgency?

Disney leadership author Jeff Noel writing at Disney Springs entrance
Writing from anywhere, any time. And nearly exclusively at Walt Disney World.

What happens to business excellence when there’s no urgency?

What happens to you when there’s no organizational vibrancy urgency?

Recall what you accomplished when you had something super urgent?

Write it down now: What was it, why was it urgent, what was the outcome and why?

Trapped in our business excellence culture comfort?

Disney business author Jeff Noel writing at Disney University
Writing at Disney University.

Trapped in our business excellence culture comfort?

The sustainable business excellence we could enjoy will always be trapped by what we are unwilling to give up.

The trap revolves around the effort we will need to summon. This universally feels like too much energy, time, money, and discomfort.

So we don’t do anything.

Even when we choose not to decide, we still have made a choice.

What kind of successful business enterprise do you long to become?

What’s missing from making that happening?

What are you willing to change?

It doesn’t matter what you look at

man with back turned at a softball field
Writing at the last remaining, original Cast Member softball field.

It doesn’t matter what you look at, what matters is what you see

When we focus on the surface, we risk missing everything else.

Imagine that for a moment.

You may marvel at Disney’s world-famous grooming guidelines and completely miss the fact that grooming guidelines aren’t the insight.

The insight is Disney’s uncompromising focus on delivering what the Guest wants.

The Guest wants something Magical, something no one else in the world provides.

And prior to Disneyland, the American standard for a Family outing was an Amusement Park, a Circus, a State Fair, a Carnival.

The American Carnival was a traveling show. Descending on a town, the Carnival would quickly set up in a vacant field or empty parking lot.

The mechanical rides never won awards for passenger safety.

The Carnival workers, known as “Carnies”, had a reputation for being unkempt.

Walt Disney ruptured the negative stereotypes and reinvented the industry, including the workers, becoming a category of one.


Because the Public would pay for quality, return often, and tell their friends.

Is there a business owner you know who wouldn’t want organizational vibrancy?

Make an uncommon business excellence book

quote about wisdom
This is the way.

One of the ideas was making an uncommon book

Make an organizational vibrancy book that flies in the face of what normal books look like?

Are you crazy?

  • What if people shun it?
  • What if it doesn’t work?

You can feel the logic in those questions because they’re no-brainer questions, questions every smart leader would ask.

But what about these.

  • What if people love it?
  • What if it works better than your wildest dreams?

Of course, there’s no guarantee either way.

This is why most people, and most organizations, stay on the tried and true path of good and very good.

The commitment to make excellence the only goal is scary for most.


Because it requires risk.

Risk scares people and organizations.

This is fundamental, elementary even.

And true.

But what if instead of being scary, risk was embraced as essential to your health and the health of your organization?

Not until leaders, and organizations, desire to make business excellence risk-taking mandatory will cultural transformation start spreading its wings.

Business Excellence Next Steps activity

Classic Jungle Cruise Skipper humor
Classic Jungle Cruise Skipper humor.

Business Excellence Next Steps activity

Strike while the iron is hot. Iron is easily malleable when hot, and impossible to shape when not.

Now (yes, right now) is the time to write down some important, top-of-mind business excellence thoughts.

Make a few lists and don’t fuss over minute details – this is high-level, very rough-draft thinking. Have fun, and don’t over-analyze. This should be quick:

Who (whom should you involve):

What (what needs to be done):

Where (where will the work occur):

When (when will the work happen):

How (how will the work be accomplished):

Why (why is this important; what’s to be gained by doing it, what’s to be lost by doing nothing):

How’d that feel?

Have you perceived what’s happened in the past few minutes?

You’ve just started planting, on paper, the seeds of intentional business excellence behavior that will facilitate the slow and steady path forward to business excellence transformation.

Who better than you?

Disney business excellence author Jeff Noel writing on iPhone
A Disney Cruise Ship is a fine place to write a Disney leadership book.

Who better than you?

From the business excellence activity you just completed, you should be somewhere on the spectrum between overjoyed with future possibility or overwhelmed with hopelessness.

The next best step for your current state is action.

Action will harness your joy for possibility and it will also mitigate your feelings of hopelessness by giving you the initial small steps required to gain a feeling of progress and hope.

Who better than you to have this remarkable business excellence opportunity?

Pause for a moment before reading the next sentence and contemplate and answer the question above: “Who better than you?”

How did your answer resonate?

Okay, let’s continue with another question.

How did it feel to write and/or draw your business excellence thoughts on paper?

Was it easy?


Was it hard?


Do you feel more optimistic or less optimistic from the exercise?

Regardless of your answer, what are your next business excellence culture steps?

Disney Business Excellence activity

animated Disney Cruise harbor
Castaway Cay map.

Disney Business Excellence activity

We are going to pause for a few minutes and give you an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve read from “It’s A Trap” (page __) to here.

In the space below, write (or draw) words, phrases, questions, answers. Remember, the reason you’re doing this is to capture your key thoughts as we build your organizational vibrancy assessment of your current state, visualize a bright future for yourself and your organization, and start outlining your business excellence next steps agenda.

Have fun, dream big, burn your ships…