Full disclosure – I’m a huge Disney World fan. The memories that I’ve made during the last 20 years are just priceless. For example, this one: my family and I sat down for a Disney Character breakfast – one where Mickey, Minnie, and other Disney characters visit your table for pictures and autographs while you eat – and it was quite fun, especially for little kids. My 4-year-old niece looked up with concern, having noticed all the seats around our table were full and said, “But where is Mickey going to sit?” Cue one of those gooey, heart-melting, Hallmark moments.
But I digress – this blog isn’t about why I love Disney World. It’s about a very important lesson we can learn from Disney’s ability to execute a plan.
Disney World’s parking process is a gold standard when it comes to efficient and effective parking. Cars are ushered in and fill every spot in a seamless, smooth process. It almost seems easy, but with the Magic Kingdom alone averaging more than 56,000 visitors per day, you suddenly realize there is nothing easy about parking that many cars.
Disney has a well-oiled plan to make the process as quick as possible. However, the key is not merely the plan, but also its execution. When executed correctly, guests experience a seamless process that seems so easy and effortless, but one cone or parking attendant out of place and all chaos breaks loose – you’ll have people driving around the parking lot, parking here and there, leaving tons of spots open, yet hard to find.
Unfortunately, my family experienced this lapse in execution personally. Having visited Disney World numerous times, I know their parking process is great; the plan was not at fault for the chaos that we saw unfold on that hot summer day. And this brings me to a very important lesson about execution: you can have the best plan ever, but if it is not executed properly, it won’t work.
As communication and business professionals, we’re constantly making plans for that new product launch or our next big conference or event. But when was the last time you spent time actually reviewing the execution of those plans? I want to give you three very important tips that will help you better execute your plans.
- Assign Tasks
Gather your team, make sure tasks are assigned to specific individuals, and assess whether they clearly know what their job is within the plan. It’s also worthwhile to explain why their role is important, which will promote buy-in from your team.
Think about Disney World’s parking plan – they assign each parking attendant a very specific, seemingly small role; but when they all execute their individual tasks, it creates great synergy and the huge challenge of ushering thousands of guests into the theme park becomes far more manageable.
- No Sleeping at the Wheel
Beware; a great plan can tempt you to hit autopilot, but you need to be engaged with your plan at all stages. You need to double-check that each part of your plan is moving forward. That way, if there’s a hiccup you can catch it early, recover, and move on. Remember, it’s when you shift into autopilot that plans start to unravel. You don’t want an unorganized Disney World parking situation on your hands!
Evaluation is the true key to improvement, so if you want to become better at executing your plans, you’ll need to evaluate yourself. Be your toughest critic, because this is a time to learn from both the good and bad. Here are a few questions to consider at all stages from plan development to completion:
- Did you assign tasks to your team correctly?
- Did all team members execute the assigned tasks properly? If not, why not?
- Were your tasks specific?
- Was your team equipped with the right skills, tools, and resources needed to complete their assigned tasks?
- Did you have a good timeline, with clearly defined milestones?
- Did you stay engaged with your plan from start to finish?
I’m glad that Disney World takes the time to self-evaluate and correct. If they didn’t, I’m sure I’d have seen way more disorganized parking lots over the years.
A great plan is nothing without execution. Therefore, don’t forget to assign tasks, take inventory, and evaluate, so that you can get the most out of your well-thought-out plans. But, if you need professional help…well, you know who to call.