It Takes Dreamers and Doers: A Lesson from the Disney University Founder


“The cold reality is that I may be good at creating new programs, but I’m a lousy administrator. I get nervous and fidgety in meetings and hate rules, regulations, policies, procedures as well as what were becoming popular, budgets.” Van France, Founder, Disney University

One Person Can’t Do It All

Van France had the rug pulled out from under him the day he learned that a new manager had been hired to run the daily operations of the Disney University. While Van wouldn’t have to report directly to this new manager, his feelings were deeply hurt. Walt Disney once said that “a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Well, Van got that kick in the teeth, and after moping about due to his bruised ego, realized that the organizational change had been good for him and the University. He even said, “my style had been appropriate for the pioneering years, and it had been fun. (The new manager) brought in needed sophistication … there was even an organization chart.”

Van France was the definition of a right-brain thinker; he was intensely creative, quick on his feet, eager to break new ground and the first to become bored with procedures and run-of-the-mill maintenance. He was a dreamer. He also learned that one person can’t do it all. The new manager brought much-needed balance with his operational skills and attention to detail. The new manager was a doer.  Together, they created an even better University.

What Van learned about the strength of pairing dreamers and doers is a lesson that is vital for the long-term health of any organization. Unfortunately, this vital balance is overlooked by far too many leaders.

How is the balance on your leadership team?