At Champions, we had the privilege of talking to Disney's creative mastermind, the revolutionary Duncan Wardle. In the interview, led by Director, Jack Hayes, Duncan revealed the secrets to Disney's success, including the importance of innovation, technology and magical customer service. Duncan also discussed his personal journey of growth and the inspirations that made him the businessman that he is today.
If you are stuck in a rut or want to take your brand to the next level, learn from one of the pioneers of innovation, creativity and imagination. If you want to find out more, get in touch with a member of our team to discuss booking Duncan for your virtual webinar, traditional event or private corporate workshop.
Q: Following In the footsteps of Walt Disney’s innovation & creative genius, how did you manage to put your own spin on the strategy for Disney (which evidently worked!)?
"As Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, my role was to help Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilms, Disney Parks, ESPN and ABC to Think Different to develop new products and services by creating a tool kit that made innovation accessible to everyone by making it tangible."
Q: Has technology helped or hindered creative thinking & innovation?
"Good question. I have no doubt that it has exponentially increased our ability to be creative and innovative. Because of the pandemic this spring, a high school in Tokyo hosted their graduation ceremony in Minecraft by recreating their school gym, all the graduating students and faculty in the Minecraft environment so everyone got to go."
"Then think of gaming. Pokemon Go used Augmented reality to combine the real world with the virtual one. So what if using AR Vincent Van Gogh could step out of his own painting, rip his ear off and tell you why he did it! I recently piloted a virtual basketball league with the NBA. We had the virtual Orlando Magic play against the virtual New York Knicks with a much larger virtual audience than a stadium could fill. Now think where 3D printing is heading."
"I see a world in the not too distant future where we order an item online and then print it at home. Printed food can't be too far behind."
Q: If you were to give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
"Do what you love and you’ll be really good at it! We all had our favourite subject at school and it was the subject in which we got out the best grades. It's simple really. I love moon shot thinking and helping companies. Think different and innovate."
Q: What are the key pillars for innovation within a business?
"We tried three models for innovation at Disney."
"1. We hired innovation consultants like I.D.E.O. who were very good but not about to teach us how to do what they did."
"2. We created an innovation team which did a good job as acting as a catalyst for change but also subliminally sent the message to the rest of the organisation that they were off the hook and could keep doing business as usual."
"3. We ran Hackathons and Accelerator programs at Disney where we would partner an entrepreneurial tech startup with Disney cast members who could help them scale their idea quickly, allowing us to bring products and services to market much quicker than usual."
"But none of these models changed our culture so I set out to create my own Design Thinking toolkit that makes innovation easy, creating tangible and the process fun, so everyone wants to use it. You can’t talk culture change you have to give people a toolkit that they actually enjoy."
Q: How would you advise employees to think creatively in a stereotypically stale and dull industry?
"There is a tool I borrowed from the world of improv that stops everyone from immediately shooting down ideas and helps them develop Revolutionary ones. The more experience and expertise we have the more reasons we know why the new idea won't work so we instantly shoot it down. But what if there was a tool to stop you from being a reductionist and help you think expansionist."
Q: Who is your inspiration and why?
"Sir Richard Branson. Because he walks the talk every day. He takes Risks. He fails. He gets back up and starts again. Yet he is considered one of the most successful, likeable people in the corporate world."
Q: What is your favourite Disney project and why?
"Too many! A recent one was by Re-Expressing the Challenge - we came up with a Revolutionary idea that completely changed the Disney Park experience. Instead of asking how we might we make more money, which would have resulted in putting the theme park ticket price up - allowing us to make our quarterly results (iteration), we asked how we might we solve the biggest consumer pain point.
"Lines (queues) and asked ourselves: what if there were no lines? This culminated in Disney’s Magic Band, which gives the guests up to ninety minutes free time each day - which in turn led to record guest satisfaction and record revenues (innovation!)."
Book Duncan Wardle
Judging from Duncan's incredible insight, it is no surprise that he is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest innovators. Whether you are organising a traditional event or a virtual webinar, your guests will be enlightened by Duncan's unbeatable strategies for top-class customer service.
To book one of our innovation speakers, including Duncan Wardle, browse and select the desired topic and simply complete our online booking form or call us on 0207 1010 553.
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