What Walt Disney Taught Me About Valuable Training

“The first thing I did when I got a little money to experiment, I put all my artists back in school.”

The skills that made your first success will not get you to the next. Walt Disney lived and breathed this idea and infused this into every one of his employees. Most companies will agree with Walt Disney’s statement above since they pour tons of money into training every year. However, they may be hesitant to take the next step, which is what made Walt Disney an innovator.

“But we were going a little bit beyond what they were getting in art school, where they work with a static figure. Now we were dealing in motion, movement and the flow of movement. Action, reaction, all of that. So we had to set up our own school”

It takes a lot of courage to say that you don’t have all the answers for the challenges right now. But it takes even more courage to say you are willing to learn and push the envelope of the industry. This is radical! It changed my view of valuable training since I managed training of technology products and also live in-training right now for my next marathon.

Often times training is outdated even though the information may be in the greatest and latest powerpoint deck. It is based on assumptions of how the world works today, not how the world can be tomorrow. Walt Disney saw training as experimentation, which most people will think is risky.

“Isn’t training suppose to have the answers to my problem?”

No. But if training is designed with experimentation maybe you’ll find the answer.

 Courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives Photo Library

Courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives Photo Library

Walt Disney brought in animals into the studio while artists sat around that horse, elephant or deer so they would be able to capture the animals’ natural appearance and give them personality. If he would have just settled for what art schools were offering at the time, we would not know Bambi today.

“What?!?! Training can be play?”

Absolutely. There is a difference between listening and doing.

 Courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives Photo Library

Courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives Photo Library

Walt Disney set up a Character Model Department so artists would keep the animations consistent. These 3-dimensional models could be viewed from any angle. It gave the world the perfect Pinocchio. Pushing the envelope is tough because it requires more doing than listening, otherwise, we’ll never be able to test if the idea works or not. How can we expect to innovate if a bunch of information is being dumped into our heads and we’re not creating? If that’s the case then a Borg drone might as well assimilate you!

The Design of Training

If training is designed as an opportunity to create and dream, people will see the value of training and bring back value to the company. But if training is designed as an exchange of information, people will continue to doze off or check the phone for the next break.

#theartistsway #creativity #design