What the Disney Business Model Taught Me About Parenting



“Coming up with a new recipe to feed the family, or even putting together a presentation for a new client may not typically be thought of as creative acts, but they are. Creativity is about choices, training, experimentation, inspiration, history, commitment, and fun. Every occupation – from artist to businessperson, teacher to chef – requires us to imagine, create, and execute ideas. No matter what you’re doing, you’re being creative,”
~ Jody Revenson, a Disney Editor

in The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles

Hear that? No matter what you’re doing, you’re being creative. Or you better hope you are. Otherwise it’s the beginning of the end.

I have a strong belief that an artist must never be too ‘on vacation’ to learn from the ideas and success of another, and I have been reading The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles, by The Disney Imagineers. If you are a creative component to your industry, or especially if you lead brainstorming sessions with a team of change-makers, or if you just like to read and think creatively, read this book.

I read about the “Yes, if…” method.  This is how the early analysts and economists fueled the development of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, particularly how they brought ideas to Walt himself.

“‘Yes, if…’ is the language of an enabler.
It pointed to what needed to be done to make the possible plausible.
Walt liked this language.
‘No, because…’ is the language of a deal killer.
‘Yes, if…’ is the approach of a deal maker.

Creative people thrive on ‘Yes, if…’.

So, in essence, the conversation could look like, “Could we make this happen?” “Yes, if we had more funding. Or if we hired one more person. Or if we had the executive support we need. Or if we had some promotional materials. Or if we had a new creative director. Or…” you see how this goes.

So then I add these two formulas together, because their definition of creativity is a whole lot like my definition of parenting: “choices, training, experimentation, inspiration, history, commitment, and fun.”

Check, check, check, check, check, check and check.

From a parenting standpoint, let me look closely at this “Yes, if…” method. Especially with regard to the child I have who demands a measure of ingenuity every moment of the livelong day as he endlessly challenges my very God-given authority and questions my common sense as a human being.

Instead of answering, “No, because…” I wonder what it might look like if I train myself to begin with, “Yes, if…”

“Can I [insert anything at all, to any degree of common request or seriously raging atrocity]?”

“Yes, if you’ve washed your hands.”

“Yes, if you wake up early enough.”

“Yes, if your laundry is done.

“Yes, if you can stop arguing with me.”

“Yes, if you have read the directions.”

“Yes, if I have pre-approved the ingredients.”

“Yes, if you are 18.”

“Yes, if you don’t mind answering to the police.”

“Yes, if you can pay for it yourself.”

“Yes, if you are okay with the possibility of having only 8 fingers.”  Which I am actually not okay with, so maybe it’s “Yes, if I can agree with the consequences to your life as well.”

Imagine the possibilities. Imagine how his spirit could soar.
Yes, if only his mom would give him the chance.

Tricia Lott Williford

Comments are closed

  1. Oooh, I love the “Yes, if…” method as applied to parenting! If only I could go back & do it over!

  2. Fantastic!!!!!!

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