September 15, 2010

Disney's Mr. Incredible?

Robert Iger is certainly leaving his mark as CEO on the Walt Disney Company. Much like Michael Eisner before him, Mr. Iger is a man with a vision. But will he eventually be remembered as a villain or as a new century Mr. Incredible?

Here's just a few thoughts to consider before we start making our minds up. First, things do not always end as they start. Remember, Eisner was heralded as the savior of the company when he began, and he proved his interest, creativity, and wisdom in all things Disney during his first decade. Decade Two, well, you know the story. Not a happy ending.

Secondly, a great leader is backed up by a great team. Eisner had Frank Wells, who apparently kept the man in check. Iger looks like he has started well by bringing in John Lasseter into larger roles than just Pixar, but lately Bob seems to redirecting the company ship by heading down the wrong path by letting go of folks like Dick Cook.

Acquisitions are a big temptation and a potentially lucrative business decision for anyone leading a company with the resources of Disney. Pixar? Check. Marvel? Check. So far, seems like good moves on his part.

What other odds and ends? Oh yes, the parks. The bread and butter of the business along with the film division. Gotta give the man credit for his cajones in the forthright acknowledgement of the creative and financial failure of California Adventure. Then backing it up with a $1,000,000,000.00 plan worth of improvements. (Just count those zeroes!)

But balance that out by his involvement in the woefully dismal Hong Kong Disneyland, the increasing lack of maintenance and care of Walt Disney World, and how Shanghai Disneyland is being outsourced, and you just have to wonder what the guy is thinking. Long term or short term profits? A slippery slope balancing investor desires.

Mr. Iger's love of technology is well known, and his aggressive moves on making television web available is changing the industry. My hunch is this is only the beginning. The make up of the Board of Directors indicates my hunch will prove true.

As of right now, it is hard to tell how Robert Iger will be seen in the future. Let me give him this piece of advice- enjoy the successes and accept the failures as part of a learning process. Do what is best for people, be it giving them high quality entertainment options at fair prices or treating employees at all levels with respect and decent wages. In this, be full of integrity and honesty without greed. In doing so, you'll sleep well at night- and your legacy with the company will be one of honor.
(Art copyright Pixar/The Walt Disney Company.)

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