Leaders Should Know – and Tell – Their Organization’s Creation Story

Will Mancini, founder of Auxano and Younique, writes about the importance of leadership stories here. He believes that storytelling and understanding the nuances of story will help leaders in the daily ebb and flow of communication. The first, appropriately, is your organization’s creation story.

As a leader, you should know more about the creation story of your organization than anyone on the planet. What are the circumstances—passions, problems, and people—surrounding how the organization got started to begin with? 

Mastering the richness of the creation story will help in two major ways. First, it will hold insight into the unique culture of the organization and therefore future decision-making and vision. Second, your mastery of the story itself will bring tremendous credibility with people when initiating change.

With a passion of Disney history, I’m always grateful to visit Disney properties and immerse myself in the stories and culture of Walt Disney and the “kingdom” he began. During a recent multi-day visit to California, I had the opportunity to visit Disneyland several days, experiencing both the familiar and new perspectives.

Take this image, for example:

In talking with current Cast Members, Tour Guides, and former Imagineers, various stories were given as to the origin of Disneyland:

  1. It was Walt Disney’s fascination with trains, beginning as a boy, that led him to first create a scale model railroad in his backyard. Not satisfied, he begin to develop an ever-growing park that would include a railroad. When Disneyland opened in 1955, the first object you saw approaching the park was a train station, and a 5/8 scale railroad encircled the park.
  2. Saturday’s were “Daddy’s Day,” and Walt often took his daughters to play in nearby parks. While sitting on a bench in Griffith Park, Walt imagined what a park would look like that would allow both parents and children to be immersed in a story-rich, safe, clean park.
  3. Fascinated by miniatures, Walt began a hobby of crafting extremely detailed miniature items, building entire rooms filled with objects that were not only beautiful to look at, but fully functional. He envisioned a place to display these miniatures so that people from all over the country could enjoy them.
  4. By the late 1940’s-early 1950’s, Walt had grown tired of making animated pictures, and even his recent venture into live-action motion pictures left him dissatisfied. He imagined a place were people could actually be a part of a story, immersed in all the rich details that a “theme park” could provide.

What is the true origin of Disneyland?

I believe that all of the above contributed to the creation of Disneyland. And the common denominator of all of them?

Passion.

> What about your organization?

ACTION STEP: Write a one-page, 2-minute creation story talk. If you have any gaps in your knowledge, interview people in your organization until you know more than anyone else.

> Read more by Bob.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 40 years. They have 4 children, 3 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 5 grandchildren.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

What Churches Can Learn from the Cultural Influences of the Disney Organization

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of taking a bunch of family vacations at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I love it … partly because it’s such a fun place to visit and partly because I find leadership lessons everywhere I look. My family recently spent a week at WDW and it got me thinking about how it’s changed over the years and what those changes can teach me as I lead at my church. Disney is a big organization attempting to stay on the cutting edge of impacting culture. Here are a few of their changes that jumped out at me:

  • Personalized Technology // In 2013, Disney rolled out a series of products under the banner of MyMagic+. This technology personalizes your vacation experience. You can book your ride times from home, before you even leave for vacation. A few of the newer rides create automatic digital souvenirs, which blend music, professional video and images of you on the ride. It’s reported that Disney has spent $1 billion to provide this sort of personalization to its guests.
    • How are you leveraging data to make a better experience for people? What if we celebrated people’s birthdays and anniversaries as they arrived at our services each week? What if we generated name tags for people with a scan of their license plates as they pulled into our parking lots?
  • More Intimate Experiences // Disney recently finished the Magic Kingdom’s largest expansion in its history, with a completely redone Fantasyland. In the middle of many great new attractions is Enchanted Tales with Belle. It’s an almost 30-minute small group experience where you are face to face with Belle from Beauty and Beast while kids re-enact the story. Don’t miss this … Disney could have invested in a new show, ride or theater experience … but they chose to structure an incredibly intimate time where families interact directly with the story.
    • Growing churches need to fight the urge to move people into larger and larger crowds. How can you break your ministry into smaller communities to give intimate growth experiences? Where is the “mid-sized” community being developed at your church … between the large gatherings and small groups?
  • Global and Local Expansion // I asked a long-time “cast member” at Disney World when the slowest time of the year is now. He commented that Disney has done a lot of global advertising to draw in guests from around the world, so there really isn’t a slow time of year due to varying vacation schedules. At the same time, WDW just opened a massive parking garage called Disney Springs as part of a new expansion project targeted at Central Florida residents and people vacationing at other Orlando attractions.
    • How is your church reaching out to “hard to acquire” first-time guests and more readily available “low-hanging fruit”? What’s a series of Sunday services that you could do to draw in a different demographic than you normally reach? (I love what The Meeting House is doing with some daring new ground in its series entitled ISIS, Islam, and Jesus … a great example of trying something new!) Who is the core community your church is perfectly tuned to reach? How can you reach more of those folks? (Have you heard of First Baptist Church at The Villages in Florida? This church is unashamedly reaching retired folks … check it out!)
  • Increased Re-Rideability // Disney changes some of its rides so they are different every time you ride them. The Star Tours ride at Hollywood Studios has 54 potential variations in the story line. The Toy Story Maniaride is essentially a 3D video game that you travel through … begging guests to ride it again to increase their scores. The new Test Track ride at Epcot allows guests to design their own futuristic car and then see how it performs … again implicitly inviting guests to come back and tweak their designs. These changes are a far cry from the “It’s a Small World” generation of rides where guests experienced the same thing for decades.
    • Are you offering variety in your experiences so that people have a sense of anticipation when they come to your church? What is the balance between offering a repeatable experience that you can do with excellence and fresh experiences that keep people engaged? How are you adding elements of surprise and delight into what your church does to keep people interested and coming back?
  • The Experience Before the Experience // Let’s be honest … a big part of a Disney World vacation is standing in line and waiting for something to happen. It’s a pretty ingenious business model really! I’ve noticed that throughout the park Disney attempts to make these “waiting” experiences as elegant and entertaining as possible. At the classic Haunted Mansion there is a bunch of new interactive elements designed to entertain and delight guests before they enter the ride. The queue for the brand new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride includes games and all kinds of fun stuff to do while you wait for your turn on the train. Even the Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant has menus with really cool animations to look like they are built by a cuckoo clock maker! All of these small sub-experiences help you enjoy the experience before the experience … whether that’s a $100 million roller coaster or a $10 chicken burger!
    • Where do people “wait” at your church? How can you add to those experiences to make them great? Can you get a volunteer to stand with folks as they check in their kids … maybe handing the kids treats or stickers? What happens before your service as people arrive? Could you do something in the foyer to welcome people and build anticipation?

>> Read more from Rich.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Culture >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.