Act and Adapt

Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.

Lots of life is a balance. Greed and benevolence. Extreme ownership and decentralized command. Firm and soft. Act and adapt. When abstracted and visualized we make maps. As Adam Savage wrote, “Drawing is your brain transferring your ideas, your knowledge, your intentions, from the electrical storm cloud at its center, through synapses and never endings, through the pencil in your hand, through your fingers, until it is captured in the permanence of the page, in physical space.

The things we draw, the maps we make aren’t real – but they are helpful.

In POV40IQ emails this week we looked at situations where actions rule and ones where adaptation rules. One more example is Disney.

Marty Sklar is the only Disney employee to attend the opening of all eleven theme parks across the world. Disney theme park service is best in class. It’s so good they teach the Disney way as a class. Ramit likes it.

Sklar knows a lot of these things. Some he taught. Some he writes about, like in the book, Mickey’s Ten Commandments, a book focused on how Disney makes their theme parks so Disney like.

One way to do that is to have a patron’s point-of-view.

“In the earliest days of Disneyland, when everything was new for the guests and the Imagineers, Walt Disney decreed that every designer was to go to the park at lease every other week and stand in the lines (we call them queues) to understand what our guests were experiencing.”

That’s a case of Disney acting to see how they could improve people’s experience at the parks. Lots of good businesses do this. The IKEA founder, for example, still occasionally worked the cash registers when he was CEO.

Disney’s effort shows. The parks include some of the most innovative designs in the world. Understanding psychology, much like Rory Sutherland, Disney knows that entertaining waits aren’t waits at all.

Dumbo gives people a place to rest (in the air conditioning!). The Jungle Cruise queue is full of humor. So is the Haunted Mansion. Taking the customer’s perspective, Disney Imagineers acted. But sometimes the Imagineers adapt.

After 2008 Disney stumbled. In 2009 Disney reported to investors that attendance dropped 1% but park and resort operating profits fell by half.

How did Disney keep attendance levels up? They adapted. They offered free dining plans. People liked it, and they got used to it. Now it’s a program that brings people back year after year.

In one post we compared Howard Marks to Russian nesting dolls. There we noted the three levels we ‘live in’. Our heads, our buildings, and our environment. At each of these, we act or adapt depending on the circumstances.

Thanks for reading.

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