Disney calls them the “front line,” we call them the “heart beat” of our company: the employees that are in the trenches, dealing with the public and just plain indispensable.

The front line is full of valuable information that can help with leadership decision-making. Who knows more about your customers’ needs, complaints, or struggles?

On the first day of the Disney Institute workshop, we participated in a leadership exercise called the Duckburg Activity. It was a delightfully funny, eye-opening experiment in communication. It focused on the difficulties of being a front line employee without proper communication from the leaders.

I was able to reproduce this activity for my employees. It was great fun watching them try to figure out what was going on, the quiet confusion and the eventual success.

As a result, we started early morning meetings for better communication. We started to look for ways to make the front line job easier or more efficient. Through that process we discovered that too much time is wasted restocking supplies. We were able to devise a system to hold larger quantities of our mailing product. A task that was once done daily is now only done once a week.

Somewhat insignificant, right? Not to our front line.

Contributed by: Donna F. (NDGM#14). Donna is our resident Disney Institute expert for small businesses.


  1. I remember when the Disney Institute had their classes in buildings in the area where DVC’s Saratoga Springs is now.

    I had a blast going and taking a photography class which included a field trip out to the old Discovery Island…I still have my pics from that field trip. 🙂

    Wish they still offered those classes on Disney Property for the average Joe…I was looking forward to taking a cooking class from them too.

    IMHO the down fall of that incarnation of the Disney Institute is that the company never really advertised the programs they offered well enough to the public.

  2. I remember those classes also. I was much younger with small children and that had to stay as a “some day” dream. The next thing I knew, they didn’t offer them anymore. Quite by accident I found out about the current Disney Institute and was so excited. Disney, like any other business, makes mistakes and has to re-group. I guess this was one of those times. Only time will tell. Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it.

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