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  1. #1

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    The Three Corporate Caballeros: Bob Iger, John Lasseter and Steve Jobs

    The Walt Disney Company - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Disney - John Lasseter - New York Times

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney_Imagineering

    Michael Eisner is and his monetary (non-creative) style of management all but focuses so much on aquisition of non-traditional business entities that the Walt Disney Company negected it;s core business...movies and theme parks. The man who once said, "I am not Mickey Mouse" became oblivious to the importance of Disney quality...allowed the parks to fall apart, built new parks on the cheap, and allowed Disney boxoffice films to become a series of one irrelevant bomb after another. Hard to believe the man was so out of touch that he didn't even know that guns had been taken away from Disneyland's Jungle Cruise skippers.

    Disney was in dire need of heroes that were both professional, and who remained in touch with their "inner child-at-heart". We owe a great deal of gratitude to a group effort by Disney fans everywhere for Eisner's defusion of power, and subsequent decision to retire. This effort to "restore the magic" was led by and large by Roy E. Disney and online bloggers, the most courageously outspoken and impactful being MiceAge/MiceChat's own great kahyna, Al Lutz. Roy Disney has earned his revered position with the company as it's primary Consultant, and Vice Chair Director Emeritus.

    With Eisner gone, previously alienaed creative giants such as Pixar and George Lucas became on speaking terms with Disney once again. Robert A. "Bob" Iger officially replaced Michael "don't call me Mike" Eisner as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company in October of 2005. Concerns mounted at the time that Bob would adopt the same failing policies as his predicessor. He quickly dispelled these wories by demonstrating early on a genuine interest in getting WDC back on the right track...placing the emphasis on it's core...movies and theme parks.

    Talks opened up with Pixar over the possibility of the progressive San Francisco based company becoming an assimilated aquisition of WDI. The way things worked out, I consider it more of a merger of the two companies. When Pixar was aquired by Disney in May 2006, it's co-founder, chairman and ceo Steve Jobs took a seat on Disney's Board of Directors. Jobs has served as an inluential director ever sense, second only to co-director, Bob Iger. In addition, Jobs has the destinction of being Disney's Chief Shareholder. In my opinion, this elevates his power and influence above that of WDC's chairman of the board. That said, Bob Iger is clearly the top banana. However, it is imprtant to note that Steve Jobs remains in comanding CEO of his company, Apple, Inc.

    Iger and Jobs are two of the Three Corporate Caballeros referred to in the title of theis thread...our third hero being John Lasseter. The three together subscribe to a policy of responsibility to (and respect for) WDC's shareholders. "The Walt Disney Company is committed to governance policies and practices that assure shareholder interests are represented in a thoughtful and independent manner."

    I would compare the roles of Iger and Jobs to be most similar to that of Walt's brother, Roy Disney. Functionally, it is John Lasseter that has become that creative, inspirational little bee that Walt was. Where operations are concerned, Iger is the only person in the company that outranks Lasseter. Nobody should underestimate the the power and influence wielded by John Lasseter throughout the company as Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, as well as being WDC's first Principal Creative Officer.

    John Lasseter performs a pivotal role as the creative director for the animation studios and WDI (which he'd like to see returned to it's WED Enterprises moniker). There are those on this board that have attempted to paint a picture of him as a somewhat disrespected oddball that begs and whines for qualitative change...and rarely accomplishes a thing. A person would have to be absolutely NUTS to think such a thing. As discussed above, Lasseter and Jobs are the two most powerful individuals in the company... beneath Bob Iger. The three combined forces are indeed the Three Corporate Caballeros that run the Walt Disney Company.

    When Lasseter let it be known that desired a larger budget for Cars Land, he got his way. When he told those associated with the production of the Princess and the Frog to travel around the Rivers of America aboard the Mark Twain (in order to implement that area of Disneyland into the movie as much as possible) , they did so. The coming PoF show aboard the Mark Twain will be so much more enjoyable to those who see the movie because of this insightful idea.

    Would Lasseter desire for fans to think that when he tells people to jump, they do exactly that? Just like Walt, he's too humble a man to desire that image. Again to those who see meekness as weakness, all successful great leaders have always exercised good common sense people skills. He grew up on "Walt Disney, Goofey, and Mickey Mouse", and still loves toys of all kinds...including Hot Wheels and GI Joes (just as Walt was crazy about trains). But, people leaned not to toy with Walt...as they are learning not to try to railroad Lasseter off track.

    "I am, by nature, an honest person...I wear my emotions on my sleave. There is no 'behind closed doors' with me. It's the nature of Hollywood that there are the people in power who tell them what they want to hear. We choose to be honest and open." Modeled after Pixar's "brain trust", Lasseter has established an analytical "story trust" for the purpose of holding critical examinations among story editors and directors of films. Meet the Robinsons and Up are two such examples that this form of diagnostic analysis was empoyed. It would be resonable to assume that he uses the same type of strategy to ensure the quality of theme park rides and other attractions.

    He trusts his insticts in keeping the films of Disney proper and Pixar separately identifiable. Yet, the only movies he finds acceptable from either division are those that put the story in the forefront, and technology second. Disney/Pixar cultural competitive prominence in the marketplace is achieved by following this edict...as with theme parks and attractions.

    The spirit that left Disney in the 90's is returning due to the Three Corporate Caballeros...the entrepreneurs that "Run That Mickey Mouse Outfit". As with the success of recent Disney films, the new priority on theme park investment represents a cohesive effort among Iger, Lasseter and Jobs. They work together as a team in support of eachothers notions to make theme park and movie experiences world class and unique.

    The Three Corporate Caballeros have much to do in meeting the deadlines they have st for new movies and theme park/theme boat projects. Here is a list of some of the current imagineering projects -

    • Hall of Presidents Refub - Magic Kingdom - Targeted Opening, July 2009
    • Silly Symphony Swings -DCA - Targeted Opening Date, 2010
    • Turtle Talk with Crush -Tokyo Disneysea - Targeted Opening Tokyo DisneySea, October 2009
    • Space Mountain Refurb - Magic Kingdom - November 2009
    • Mickey's Philharmagic - Tokyo Disneyland - 2011
    • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Adventure - DCA - 2011
    • Disney's World of Color - DCA - March 2010
    • Buena Vista Street - DCA - 2012
    • Disney Dream - Disney Cruise Line - 2011
    • Disney Fantasy - Disney Cruise Line - 2012
    • Cars Land - DCA - 2012
    • Toy Story Midway Mania! - Tokyo DisneySea - 2012
    Last edited by Ride Warrior; 06-01-2009 at 10:29 PM.
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  2. #2

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    Re: The Three Corporate Caballeros: Bob Iger, John Lasseter and Steve Jobs

    Nice little synopsis there RW. I'm not sure I agree with you on all points, but I really don't know all the details of what is really going on and who's really calling the shots. However, so far the impression I get is that JL doesn't have the gift for Imagineering that he does for animation. In any case I have enormous respect for him and really can see in everything he does how big of a fan of Disney he is. He really clearly has a lineage and way of storytelling that feels really connected to Walt and the "old men" and brings that nostalgia and style to all his work.

    Overall I'm hope you are right and don't doubt that you are about his growing power and influence. I just hope the theme park results can compare to Pixar because so far, they are not in the same quality universe. Perhaps he just needs a few big hits under his belt on the parks side and then we'll really get to see what he can do in that genre. I do think that he has some excellent ideas on managing creative people and that alone should have a huge impact at WDI, though some of that will take time to really take effect.
    The Mickey audience is not made up of people; it has no racial, national, political, religious or social differences or affiliations; the Mickey audience is made up of parts of people, of that deathless, precious, ageless, absolutely primitive remnant of something in every world-wracked human being which makes us play with children’s toys and laugh without self-consciousness at silly things, and sing in bathtubs, and dream and believe that our babies are uniquely beautiful. You know…the Mickey in us.
    -Walt Disney

  3. #3

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    Re: The Three Corporate Caballeros: Bob Iger, John Lasseter and Steve Jobs

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
    Nice little synopsis there RW. I'm not sure I agree with you on all points, but I really don't know all the details of what is really going on and who's really calling the shots. However, so far the impression I get is that JL doesn't have the gift for Imagineering that he does for animation. In any case I have enormous respect for him and really can see in everything he does how big of a fan of Disney he is. He really clearly has a lineage and way of storytelling that feels really connected to Walt and the "old men" and brings that nostalgia and style to all his work.

    Overall I'm hope you are right and don't doubt that you are about his growing power and influence. I just hope the theme park results can compare to Pixar because so far, they are not in the same quality universe. Perhaps he just needs a few big hits under his belt on the parks side and then we'll really get to see what he can do in that genre. I do think that he has some excellent ideas on managing creative people and that alone should have a huge impact at WDI, though some of that will take time to really take effect.
    Glad that you see John Lasseters leadership talent in creating boxoffice hits, Bob. I agree that it will take time for him to prove to most everyone that this talent translates to successful big ride projects as well. Cars Land (and it's fantastic, groundbreaking rides) is destined to be the first (bearing his full-fledged signature) of what will be many to come. It is also important to not that the entire DCA makeover bears his hands-on signature.
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