A few years ago, I travelled over to the United States and was very fortunate to attend the Disney Leadership Excellence training in Anaheim, California.

Over Management Is Costing Your Firm Thousands...

The course was a one day event held at Disney’s Californian Hotel at Disneyland and included a field visit to the back stage area of the Park to meet experienced Managers and witness the “off stage” area of the operation. The course itself was immaculately organised and presented by experienced Disney Managers who have lived the Disney philosophy of “on stage – off stage” for many years.

This system of customer service has always fascinated me. When a guest (not a client or customer) interacts with a Cast Member (not staff or team members) on stage, the client experience is a primary motivator. Off stage the Cast Members arrive for work, dress, eat, take breaks, interact with others outside the view of the Guest. When they enter the Park (on stage) through discreet barriers they are immaculately trained, attired and ready to make the Guest experience the very best.

It actually reminded me of a good accounting firm. The clients arrive in a professional reception area, meet the reception team, get offered tea or coffee and their favourite biscuit and then move onto the boardroom. This is the on stage experience. The off stage experience is the work area where the team prepare the information, eat, interact etc out of client view to present a professional service to the client when on stage. We generally enter from doors (maybe not concealed) and then its action time.

During the training day the Disney team spoke about the concept of over-managing. One presenter asked the 100 plus attendees what they thought over managing was. Literally to a person the response was micromanagement. To our surprise the presenter quoted the following “Disney’s consistent business results are driven by over managing certain things that most organisations under-manage or ignore and that is a key source to what differentiates us. We have learned to be intentional where others are unintentional”

He further went on to say that:

  • We tend to think about things differently than others and to a greater degree.

  • We pay extraordinary attention to details surrounding general business processes.

  • We strategically place emphasis that is both greater than and different from what is typical in corporate best practices.

  • We have prevailing evidence that suggests what we do works.

It is this attention to detail, matched with thorough ongoing training that sets Disney apart. It is their point of differentiation. To emphasise this system of over-managing we witnessed a video of the Blinking Elephant. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando they have an animal puppet show with a huge elephant that blinks in sequence. This is controlled by a puppeteer inside the elephant who cannot see if the eye lids are blinking correctly. The puppeteer has been thoroughly trained, however all Cast Members present have been trained to notice if the blinking sequence is not normal and what to do and who to report it to. It is this attention to detail that sets good businesses aside from the competition. The blinking elephant becomes a metaphor for the actions of extraordinary leaders over-managing every aspect of the business.

So how does this relate to an accounting firm? Our industry relies on attention to detail. When details are overlooked, errors occur and the client experience is affected. Ongoing training and development in all areas of service delivery from compliance and accounts production to business advisory development and implementation is critical for a successful practice with happy and loyal clients who refer good quality business.

So where is your firm now? Have you taken the first step towards exceptional customer service? Start this process by attending the Smithink Young Guns Workshop on March 30 and 31, 2017 at the Hilton Surfers Paradise. Click here for more information.

Source: Disney Institute www.disneyinstitute.com “Disney’s Approach to Leadership Excellence” November 2014

Do you receive our monthly newsletter? If not, enter your name here and be the first to receive our monthly updates on the accounting industry.

Mark Holton Smithink