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View Full Version : When do we stop blaming Paul?



Sailor Butterfly
09-02-2003, 01:31 AM
I'm just curious to see what everyone thinks. When do we stop blaming Paul Pressler for the condition of the DLR and start blaming or crediting Jay Rasulo? Or is Jay impotent without a Frank Wells at the top?

dasrock
09-02-2003, 02:05 AM
i thought it was john who broke the band up!:D

Sailor Butterfly
09-02-2003, 05:01 AM
Ba-dum-pum!

I've got a ticket to ride, so you can get back to where you once belonged.

Duane
09-02-2003, 05:41 AM
The truth of the matter is that Disneyland has the same type of operating challenges today as it did when Walt was alive. We just have the internet now so people who are bored, like to nag, and have little to do with their time, can sit at their computers eating twinkies as they gripe at how poorly they think things are being done.

Sailor Butterfly
09-02-2003, 06:51 AM
Hey, let's get one thing straight, bub. I don't eat Twinkies. I eat Ho-Hos!

Captain Josh
09-02-2003, 06:53 AM
Originally posted by dasrock
i thought it was john who broke the band up!:D

And even then, most people would blame Yoko....

merlinjones
09-02-2003, 09:37 AM
We never stop blaming Paul, we just add Jay to the list.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Certainly Michael Eisner is right up there, and Tom Staggs, the CFO, too.

But most of all we should blame the corporate culture that clings to across-the-board business and market theory like a stale old religion instead of looking at Disney's unique niche and tradition as an asset. As long as these guys follow the numbers instead of their gut, they will be lost.

Duane
09-02-2003, 10:55 AM
I agree that there are some changes I would like to see take place, but Disneyland is overall a huge success. I can travel anywhere I want but always choose Disney as my destination. Where else can you feel young and get lost in your imagination and fantasy? Disney is like a great "high" without the use of drugs!

Corith
09-02-2003, 11:05 AM
Wow, tough question.

During Paul's tenure, he put into practice a new way of thinking about the park. He put like-minded people into positions of power. Mr. Pressler also created attractions, areas, and an entire park with his mind set first and foremost.

Today, nobody has the courage to walk the wild side, to make any sweeping changes. Some of the people he put into place are still there. Attractions he oversaw are still there, even if some are no longer operating, and DCA isn't going any place any time soon.

Because Paul's changes were so deep, and were allowed to run so long means that the decline of the park will continue, and the one of the major roots of that decline is Mr. Pressler.

Its also very difficult to change from what appears to be a successful business model. Paul's push for high, short term gains, looks great on a balance sheet, and most, if not all, Disney executives, pride themselves on never visiting the resort so its unlikely they see the long term losses (park decline) like we do. Its only when they start appearing on accounting records does it gain notice. By that time, even the "accountteers" will begin to blame Paul.

Tref
09-02-2003, 03:16 PM
Originally posted by Duane
The truth of the matter is that Disneyland has the same type of operating challenges today as it did when Walt was alive. We just have the internet now so people who are bored, like to nag, and have little to do with their time, can sit at their computers eating twinkies as they gripe at how poorly they think things are being done.

Not unlike, what you are doing yourself, Duane? Pass me a twinkie, my man!



One after 909,

merlinjones
09-02-2003, 07:06 PM
>>The truth of the matter is that Disneyland has the same type of operating challenges today as it did when Walt was alive. We just have the internet
now so people who are bored, like to nag, and have little to do with their time, can sit at their computers eating twinkies as they gripe at how poorly they think things are being done.<<

The challenges may well have existed indeed, but the outcome was more often ruled in favor of creative/artistic/business integrity and greater risk to insure a unique product delivered beyond all expectation. (This was Walt vs. "the sharp pencil boys").

The Company has a different strategy today, different park, different studio, different ethics, different corprate culture, different mission statement, different outcome, different tone, different product quality. This would be true with or without the internet, as a geek old enough to remember the tone of public discourse on Disney (after Walt) while eating Twinkies in the non-web 70's and 80's.

Hard to spin such simple and obvious truths. The proof is in the pudding... and profits.

Duane
09-02-2003, 07:20 PM
I constantly read threads which indicate Pressler, Harriss, and Eisner hurt the Disney Company. Other than Walt, has anyone ever approved of the leaders in the company? They must be doing something right because here they are almost 50 years later still going strong. It's true that Disney is known for creativity and innovation but without a given amount of profit, the Company would die. In other words, "fun" alone doesn't pay the bills. There has to be financial gain to continue.

cemeinke
09-02-2003, 07:30 PM
I suspect Pressler will take the blame up to the 50th. After the 50th if Disneyland doesn't have something at least planned, then we'll start hearing complaints about Rasulo.

sleepyjeff
09-02-2003, 07:34 PM
We will continue to blame Paul until the wounds he has inflicted heal: Just because the bullet is gone does not mean the torn flesh and bone automaticaly heal....it takes time.

Give JR a chance! He just got here.

dav
09-02-2003, 11:41 PM
Originally posted by Duane
I constantly read threads which indicate Pressler, Harriss, and Eisner hurt the Disney Company. Other than Walt, has anyone ever approved of the leaders in the company? They must be doing something right because here they are almost 50 years later still going strong. It's true that Disney is known for creativity and innovation but without a given amount of profit, the Company would die. In other words, "fun" alone doesn't pay the bills. There has to be financial gain to continue.

This is exceptional. I nearly applauded right here inside this computer; but I do have to agree.

The executive, The man, The only guy that would mortgage his own house to make everything possible. Putting all of the profit money he earned to create a larger studio. DANGEROUS ideas that cost so much, and that much later can only be marveled at. Sometimes the hardship of non-lucrative innovations...

I thank them all, including Eisner for their difficult choices, in an empire where everyone else knows what is aside from Walt Disney's intentions, and has no problem condemning any noticeable risk or unforgivable mistake.

-dav

merlinjones
09-03-2003, 07:40 AM
>>They must be doing something right because here they are almost 50 years later still going strong. It's true that Disney is known for creativity and innovation but without a given amount of profit, the Company would die. In other words, "fun" alone doesn't pay the bills. There has to be financial gain to continue.<<

The problem lies in your (and the entire financial community's) assumption that what common business theory suggests is best for profits. It isn't... especially in the case of Disney (which has historically only gained with high risk, even in modern times).

When Eisner took over the Company, he wanted to close feature animation, he said on 60 Minutes (to Diane Sawyer) that it was a dead business and they kept it open only for tradition (at Roy's insistence). Then Mermaid happened - - not by any plan of the CEO. You'll have to agree that the entire neo Disney empire was built on those "modern classics" Mermaid-Beauty-Aladdin-Lion King, and if they hadn't happened, the company today would be far different. If they had followed your sort of financial wisdom then, where where would we be today?

So rather than learn the lesson taught by this remarkable period, in which unusual creatives and minds participated (not just corporate yes men), we are again treated to the intended closure of feature animation, outsourcing of Imagineering, reduced reinvestment in the parks and other shortsighted plans which look great to finance types, but in actually shrink the possibility of any major profits in the future, except by cannibalizing, downsizing and bottom-lining. It's a financial death-spiral for a once premium and boutique creative enterprise.

And the overall strategic decision to alter the meaning of the brand, to make it more common, to tie it in with Kmart and McDonalds, to make it more like Six Flags and Nickelodeon, more "relevant and compelling" - - this is killing that special meaning of the word Disney to consumers, hardly financial wisdom. The problem is that investor, MBA, account types hold standard business theory as religion, and its all really very subjective. If all low risk, high gain strategies yeilded what was intended, the company would be financially soaring. It isn't currently, financially or creatively.

The three turnaround hits at the boxoffice this summer, Nemo/Freaky Friday/Pirates of the Caribbean demonstrate my point - - when Disney does Disney with quality people respond. If you build something resembling Walt's tastes, something unique to Disney - - they will come. How hard is this to learn (see DCA) over and over?

The reason the company soars 40 years later is the strength of what was built back then. Emotion and nostalgia for all of that have carried the company through many rough times, but sooner or later you have to contribute something new to the legacy or it will poop out. Eisner and Co. did that 10-15 years ago, but no more... not for nearly ten years now. It's all speadsheet theory.

Pixar is operating by Walt type principals and is hogging the Disney limelight creatively and financially, while Disney itself is taking the opposite tack.

The real bold cost cutting should be in arena of consultants, vice-presidents, strategists, analysts, surveyors, lawyers, marketing poobahs and finance gurus of all types. The overhead expenditures in these areas easily top anything in the creative arena - - and its useless repetitive thinking from these people that are killing the company's profit possibilities, not the "fun" folk. But people can only respond to what they understand, even with history as a glaring guide.

How much will they have to pay Pixar or Oriental Land Company to do their job for them?

Again, the proof is in the product - - and the profits.

RideMax Mark
09-03-2003, 08:09 AM
One of my favorite business writers is Jim Collins (he wrote "Good to Great" and co-wrote "Built to Last," two very thought-provoking business books).

One of my favorite Jim Collins articles mentions Walt Disney specifically, and how the important part of building a great company is that it needs to be an "internal and creative" process, not just a reaction to outside pressures. Here's a quote:

"If you did a word search across my research materials on the greatest company builders of the past 100 years, you would find almost no mention of "competitive strategy." Not that those builders had no strategy; they clearly did. But they did not craft their strategies principally in reaction to the competitive landscape or in response to external conditions and shocks. Without question, they kept a wary eye on the brutal facts.The fundamental drive to transform and build their companies was internal and creative. It didn't matter whether they faced a crisis (as did Thomas J. Watson Sr. at IBM, who never resorted to layoffs in the Great Depression) or whether they faced calm (as did Walt Disney when he conceived of Disneyland). The leaders who built enduring great companies showed a creative inside-out approach rather than a reactive outside-in approach. In contrast, the mediocre company leaders displayed a pattern of lurching and thrashing, running about in frantic reaction to threats and opportunities."

The entire article is available here (http://www.jimcollins.com/lib/articles/08_02_a.html) for anyone that's interested.

efoxx
09-03-2003, 08:53 AM
until every thing he ever touched has been fixed. until his name has been wiped off the history books. untill all decissions he made are reversed or corrected.

oh and by the way I think that Esiner did a heck of a good job for the first 7-10 years.

hbquikcomjamesl
09-03-2003, 09:24 AM
Personally, I would classify Eisner as a "Roy-type" (as in Roy the elder, not Roy the younger), and Wells as a "Walt-type." When Walt died, Roy had enough "Walt-types" in the company (and enough Walt in himself) to keep the creative spirit alive; still, the lack of Walt himself does show somewhat in Florida (DL has more charm, while WDW-MK has more room).

When Wells was alive, he was Walt enough to balance out Eisner's more-Roy-than-Roy-ness. Unfortunately, not even Walt could have been Walt enough to balance out Pressler.

Pressler I would classify as being so Roy-type as to make Roy seem like a Walt-type.

I am giving Jay and Cynthia the benefit of the doubt, and sincerely hope both have enough Walt in them to eventually un-Presslerize the parks. To her credit, Cynthia has actually been spotted IN the parks.

But to answer the question posed by the thread title, how long is forever?

Corith
09-03-2003, 10:36 AM
Originally posted by Duane
I constantly read threads which indicate Pressler, Harriss, and Eisner hurt the Disney Company. Other than Walt, has anyone ever approved of the leaders in the company? They must be doing something right because here they are almost 50 years later still going strong. It's true that Disney is known for creativity and innovation but without a given amount of profit, the Company would die. In other words, "fun" alone doesn't pay the bills. There has to be financial gain to continue.

Pressler, Harris, and Eisner are not playing to the public, they are playing on the view that the public is sheep. The average consumer will eat up any and all things Disney, quality matters little. The people whom these three really cater to is the handful of people on the board of directors. This group of accounteeers care little, if anything, about Disney quality, Disney brand, or any type of creative endeavor brought forth by Disney. For them, the bottom line is stock price, profit, and dividend payout. So long as Eisner and his cadre of followers can mortgage the future to wrest profits for the present, they will allow him to keep his job.

When the consumption of corporate assets have been consumed and burned into current money, and nothing else is left in which to churn into corporate profits, Eisner will be replaced. We can only wonder what will be left of the house that Walt built by then.

JeffG
09-03-2003, 10:47 AM
Originally posted by hbquikcomjamesl
Personally, I would classify Eisner as a "Roy-type" (as in Roy the elder, not Roy the younger), and Wells as a "Walt-type."

That is pretty much the opposite of how the relationship between those two executives actually worked. When Wells was alive, he was primarily considered to be the business-minded executive while Eisner's primary focus was on the creative side of the business. Wells had a reputation for providing a strong mix of fiscal sense and appropriate respect for the need to nurture the creatives within the organization. Eisner came from a background of film and television production and was widely considered to be more of an "idea man".

I think a fair amount of mythology surrounding Frank Wells seems to have formed among Disney fans in the years since his death. There has been some publicly visible floundering of the leadership within the Disney company in the years since and many fans have recognized the time of Wells death as something of a dividing point, but without really knowing much about who he was or what he did.

This really goes along with a major objection that I have long had to the nature of discussions like this thread within the Disney fan community. I see a lot of people latching onto recognizable names of executives without really having much understanding of who they are, what they do, or what impact they really have. I definitely think it would be much more constructive to focus more on whatever issues one has with the products and services produced by Disney and less on trying to place the blame on some individual.

-Jeff

Corith
09-03-2003, 11:45 AM
Sigh. Here we go again. Even after an absence of nearly a year of posting. JeffG is again immediately following up one of my posts with one his, and again telling people how to think with incorrect information. Talk about harassment!

JeffG
09-03-2003, 12:06 PM
Originally posted by Corith
Sigh. Here we go again. Even after an absence of nearly a year of posting. JeffG is again immediately following up one of my posts with one his, and again telling people how to think with incorrect information. Talk about harassment!

You need to get over the paranoia. I was responding to hbquikcomjamesl's post (as the quoted portion should clearly show). Your post wasn't there yet when I started writing my reply and I didn't even see it until after I had completed my post.

If you think there is incorrect information in my post, you are perfectly free to respond with whatever you think is accurate. That is how a discussion board works.

-Jeff

Lani
09-03-2003, 12:39 PM
Originally posted by JeffG
When Wells was alive, he was primarily considered to be the business-minded executive while Eisner's primary focus was on the creative side of the business. In fact if I recall, didn't Eisner have to finally take some business courses after Wells' death?

Eisner's shift may indeed have had to do in part with the death of Wells. Eisner finally had to buck up and be both the yin and the yang. Few can succeed in that.