Walt Disney is famous for his ability to transform incredibly creative ideas into profitable realities. The process he used to brainstorm and develop theme parks and movies, has turned into a replicable process called “Disney’s Creative Strategy” by NLP expert Robert Dilts in 1994.
Disney’s Creative Strategy can be used to create new products or to solve problems. Its simple to use as an individual, as a team, or even as an organization.
The strategy includes three roles or mindsets that each have a specific goal.
1. The Dreamer
In the Dreamer role, your team will be creating. In this phase of the strategy, a wide-open brainstorming occurs. The Dreamers can go wild without limitations or restrictions to come up with the most amazing product or the ideal solution to a problem.
While the team is dreaming, absolutely no critiquing is allowed.
2. The Realist
After dreaming, the team moves in the role of the Realist. In this space, the team takes the best ideas from the dreaming session and adjusts them to be more realistic. Here the idea is shaped and a plan is developed.
3. The Critic
Once a realistic plan has been designed, it’s time for the Critic to emerge. In this role, the team analyzes and picks apart the idea and plan. Risks and obstacles are identified in this phase.
When the Critic is finished, the team may go back into the Realist role again for the second round of planning before returning to the Critic for another round of feedback.
Tips for Setting Up this Process
When Walt Disney used this process, he would literally take the team into three separate rooms for each phase of the strategy. Each room was set up differently and once in that room, the roles were rigid. As an example, there was no time for realism in the dreamer room. Changing rooms allowed the brainstormers to shift their perspectives physically and mentally.
If you want to try this in a virtual environment, you can apply similar ideas to create unique spaces for each phase of the strategy. Perhaps, you set up three different meeting times or, you can use predesigned Disney Creative Strategy templates available in the visual collaboration platforms, such as Miro or Klaxoon.
Disney’s Creative Strategy is a simple, brainstorming process to generate new products or solutions to problems. Each of the three phases (The Dreamer, The Realist, and The Critic) is conducted separately with no overlap.
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams and the Forward, community, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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