Posted: October 27th, 2022
The full documentary is available thru the online
Kanopy Video Streaming Service(FREE to Lasell students)
OR on paid streaming services
1 page “analysis” write-up of Disney documentary – Part #1.
Your analysis should be framed around the vocabulary & concepts of the first essay:
What is Strategy
? by Michael Porter….some themes to analyze could include from the
Ideas in Practice shout out box on page 4 including:
#1 Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities
#2 Strategy requires you to make trade offsin competing – to choose what
#3 Strategy involves
” among a company’s activities
Walt Disney’s Early Days
Part one of ”
” explores the complex life and enduring legacy of Walt Disney, from his early days creating Mickey Mouse through the triumph of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.
Disney Documentary Analysis
The documentary on the life and work of Walt Disney included insight from historians, as well as, the people who worked for Walt Disney Studio. The cartoonist/animator and businessman, Walt Disney was described by different perspectives but for the most part he was seen as a man who was an “inspiration” and very “ambitious”. The general themes explored in the documentary are about his life and entrepreneurial spirit, what kept him going despite the challenges he faced, how meeting those challenges shaped his business goals, his personal ambitions, and the history of how he built his business.
In line with the themes and concepts highlighted in the essay “What is Strategy?” by Michael Porter (
011), such as ‘the unique and valuable position [or the “uniqueness” of a company], the trade-offs in competing [or the set of activities to focus on and activities to avoid], and creating ‘fit’ among the company’s activities” (p.4), the Walt Disney Studio had a clear strategy for how it was going to maintain a competitive edge in the entertainment industry. Foremost, Walt Disney was a cartoonist and animator, and he wanted to be paid for doing what he loved. From the experience of two failed companies, his first business strategy was to surround himself with trustworthy people, that being his brother Roy and a few friends. Thus, the origins of Walt Disney Studio came from working with his brother, as Disney Brothers Studio. In the first clear strategy of this third business was to change the name of the company from Disney Brothers to Walt Disney. This gave the company an “identity” that was associated with a person, namely himself, and as the documentary showed he wasn’t afraid of taking risks with new, immerging, innovative technology. The incorporation of sound and use of color animation the company created a “unique and valuable position” for Walt Disney Studio in the market because it was something that the audience had not seen before. Another business activity was branding and merchandise, the fit between doing something novel (color and sound in animated shorts, and later full-length features) and then selling items with characters allowed the company to capitalize on the audio-visual experience of the audience. The audience experienced something novel and with that experience they could also have a souvenir. This was a winning strategy for the Walt Disney Studio. There were also trade-offs. The main trade-off was the working environment that Walt Disney created for his employees, which was less than satisfactory. Although Walt Disney invested in his employees in various ways and aimed to offer some professional development, it could be argued this was in fact self-serving as he expected his employees to work hard and distinguish themselves only by hard work; if he invested in them then he expected his investment to pay off in their work product.
Colt, S. (Director). (2015). Walt Disney’s Early Days [Video file]. PBS. Retrieved January 25, 2020, from Kanopy.
Harvard Business Review. (2011). HBRs 10 must reads on strategy. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
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