Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Be Our Guest

What is on your summer must read list? A little over a year ago my Superintendent took me to a one day Disney Institute Workshop, recently while at Disneyland with my school band and choir I saw the book "Be Our Guest" and picked it up to add to my summer reading list.

What can schools learn from Disney or any business for that mater about how to more effectively run a school? The subtitle of 'Be Our Guest' is Perfecting the Art of Customer Service. Disneyland is know as the happiest place on Earth and with the thought that happy students make more receptive learners I opened the book and started reading.

You don't even get out of the introduction and one lesson more schools could learn rings true give people effective training to support the delivery of exceptional service. And you celebrate success. Never stop growing and never stop believing.

Each school can not be a cookie cutter you need to know your individual students or as Disney puts it Guestology know your customer. At Disney Parks there are four quality standards safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency. They understand that employees are their most important asset, something many schools could stand to take a lesson to learn from Disney.

When it comes to safety the entire cast is taught safety procedure and location-specific safety practices. This was never more evident this past week then when a fire broke out in the back stage area of Disneyland yet with a highly trained staff park guest where kept calm. Can we say the same about our schools? If a fire breaks out in a classroom does the kitchen staff know what to do? How about maintenance staff? Have we trained teachers how to help the sub next door in the event of an emergency?

Disney showed how much he valued his cast by adding a democratic element to his system by adopting the very best ideas, no matter where they originated. At Disney parks they believe that "our front line is our bottom line." Wow what if schools believed the same thing and thought the teacher was the most important thing and not the District Office.

Ever district office should ask itself this question. What kinds of messages do your employment settings and experiences send to job applicants and new hires?

Don't underestimate the power of a good orientation program.

Six Tips for Culture Building
1. Keep it Simple
2. Make it Global - Include everyone
3. Make it measurable
4. Provide training and coaching
5. Solicit feedback and ideas from the team
6. Recognize and reward performance

R. Buckminster Fuller the creator of Spaceship Earth at Epcot said this "You can't change people. But if you change the environment that the people are in, they will change." Disney has truly mastered this belief with setting. To many schools look and feel like prisons and students act like they are prisoners.Imagine if we made schools more inviting places to attend just by how they look. At my current school we have lines painted on the side walks so student traffic flow is one directional. While I agree with the traffic flow, I have heard more than one student say they are like prison lines. So the question is could we have the same thing with foot prints or colored arrows or even crooked arrows so they don't look like the straight lines of a prison? Disney has lines, they have painted directions on the ground, but no place in the park does it look like a prison.

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