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by Ken Pellman (archives)
November 14, 2005
Ken tells what he'd like to see from the new Disney CEO Bob Iger.

If I Was New Disney CEO Bob Iger

Okay, I’ll start off by saying that I am not Disney's new CEO Bob Iger. I do not have his credentials. I’m not in his position. Not even close. Not in the same universe. I'm glad I don't have to put up with the lot of the stuff he endures.

So who am I? I’m someone who has been following the Walt Disney Company closely for over 20 years, consuming all of the information I could find and have time to consume about the company, talking with as many people who have worked for the company as I can. I was a Disneyland Cast Member for 15 years. I have been a Disneyland Annual Passholder before becoming at a Cast Member and since I became an alumn. I have been a serial Walt Disney World vacationer. I took a Disney Cruise on my honeymoon. I was a student filmmaker, specializing in animation, and I studied theme park design in college. I was an intern for a WDI competitor. I’m a shareholder and collector. So, this is the perspective I have.

But regardless, good ideas can come from anyone, just as bad ideas can. I have some ideas, and it is up to you to decide if they are good or bad.

This column is what I'd do if I was Bob Iger, or what I'd say to Bob Iger if I had his ear. Allow me to dream, okay? You'll have your chance to respond at the end of the column.

Bob's been settling into the job. He had plenty of time before he assumed the throne to know that he was going to be there, unless he thought Michael Eisner was going to try some sort of bizarre end-run.

So, given my background, what would I tell Bob I would do if I were in his shoes?

I would consider the fact that he came up from ABC, which has consisted of a television network and stations, radio networks and stations, cable channels, etc., while Disney has been primarily identified by the public as a film, TV programming, and theme park company that also puts its characters all over merchandise. I would do my best to keep in check my natural tendency to think of ABC is the most important part of the company or most in need of any micromanaging.

As far as the larger company goes, this is not the same company that Walt and Roy Disney ran. It is not the same company that Ron Miller ran. It is not the same company the Michael Eisner and Frank Wells ran. The Walt Disney Company of today is not the same company it was ten years ago. Furthermore, media has changed, technology has changed, and the markets have changed.

With the above said, it is still important to study the history and culture of Disney. If Bob hasn't been done this already given his ten years with the company, he should immediately delve into how Disney got to where it is, and what has made it different from other companies in the same industries. There are plenty of great books and research papers to read about this. There are plenty of experienced people, currently and formerly employed in various divisions of the corporation, that are a wealth of insight and information. Some of them even worked with Walt and Roy. Some of them were there when Michael and Frank were at their best together. Seek them out. Pick their brains. Allow them to vent and offer suggestions.

Use what had made Disney unique. This doesn't have to mean recycling movies from the 1960s and 1970s. It means embracing the ideals, traditions, principles, and values that, in the past, made Disney one of the leaders in creating beloved characters, the finest feature animated film maker in the world, and the jump-starter of the modern theme park industry.

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