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Make your ideas come true with the Walt Disney Method

Published on 21/12/2022
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In a corporate world, anyone may have ideas but only a few of them are coming true. As a Business analyst you will have to find solutions to solve problems. Doing some creative brainstorming activities can give you some difficulties if in the end you don’t have any concrete realization. In this context, the Walt Disney method may help you moving directly from ideation to concrete realization. It was Robert B. Dilts who made the method known in the 1980s. That’s how Walt Disney worked even before he founded his company and that’s how he always made his team work and that’s probably why Disney Company is where it is today.

What is the Walt Disney Method ?

The Walt Disney Method is a tool for brainstorming but also for the implementation of generated ideas that is based on a role play to examine a problem from three different sequential perspectives : the Dreamer, the Realist and the Critic. Those 3 roles needs de coexist sequantially in order to get out of these blocking points that occur when 1 or 2 angles of view coexist :

The Dreamer without realism can’t realize his ideas. The Critic and the Realistare less creative and innovative without the Dreamer. The Dreamer and the Realistcan work together but they will not reach the level of quality that they could have with the Critic.

It means that you have to assume those 3 roles and incarnate them sequentially. Actually here is how the method work :

1) Create space:

In the first step, you will have to create some space to allow your participants to incarnate each roles. It can be 3 different rooms or one room that you will separate in 3 in order to facilitate the transition between the roles. It’s important for you to give them the time (5min) to incarnate each role.

2) Be Dreamy:

Once you have convened your working group, make sure that the Walt Disney method has been explained to them. Every participant has to put him/herself in the Dreamer’ shoes, meaning that they should feel free to launch ideas without any restriction in terms of deadlines, budget, resources …. Do not impose any limit. If they could do whatever they want with this project then which ideas will make them react enthusiastically? What would be their priority?

3) Be Realist:

You have collected a lot of ideas on the Dreamer’s part from the craziest to the most innovative. Of course in this part you are not judging the ideas. After examination from the Realist, any crazy idea can end up becoming the best to answer the initial problem. So you will refine and adjust your ideas to make them more concrete. This is when the working group will focus on all the actions that have to be taken: planning, full description of the ideas … What do you have to do to make your idea come true?  What and who do you need? What are the challenges and how to avoid them?

4) Be Critical:

In this final step you will examine the ideas with a critical point of view. You need to question and test every step of the idea process by trying to find the defaults. The goal is to optimize the strategy in order to refine your plan until it is as good as possible. What are the advantages/disadvantages? What are the elements that don’t depend on you? What could improve it ?

If the Critic reveals insurmountable problems, just take another turn: the Dreamer starts dreaming again but this time he will take into account the obstacles and the important remarks from the first turn. The Realist asks him/herself again « How …. ? » and so on until the critic no longer sees any obstacle to the realization of the project.

What advantages?

The Walt Disney method promotes creativity based on the ideas of the Dreamer. The intervention of the Realist and the Critic serve above all to allow those ideas to come true. At the start, the creation is not restricted, which allows more possibilities to be approached!

It encourages the collaboration by allowing each of the parties to act in turn for the good of the project. It also develops empathy among the participants by making them take turns putting themselves in each other’s shoes !

You will have a global vision on the project and this method will allow you concretizing and organizing your ideas at the same time and in a short period or time.

Finally, it stimulates everyone’s predispositions when they play the role they are closest to while allowing them to feel the point of view of others! It is by successively favoring the idea, the feasibility and the organization that the team members find innovative, thoughtful and measured solutions!  From an external point of view you will see that this exercise will bring ideas that are surprisingly efficient.

Looking to implement a new way of working in your company? Don’t hesitate to contact HeadMind Partners!

Mohamed Amara


Walt Disney Method for effective brainstorming – Toolshero

Walt Disney Method – Design Methods Finder

Disney’s Creative Strategy: The Dreamer, The Realist and The Critic (designorate.com)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyOBk0filqs

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