Disney’s MagicBands make the customer experience at the company's theme parks and resorts convenient and easy.
But developing those all-in-one wristbands—which allow guests to open hotel doors, charge food to their accounts, and generally improve the park experience—was anything but easy.
“At times, it was daunting,” Meg Crofton, former president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for the U.S. and France, tells CO-OP Think 17 in New York.
Crofton says she learned 10 lessons from the innovation process:
1. Be your own guest. There is no substitute for experiencing something the same way as the guest does. Collect your own stories and combine with data.
2. Guests don't have our organization charts. Sometimes there are unintentional silos where the customer experience is handed off from one department to the other.
Break them down because the customer does not care what each department does or does not do.
3. It was not a technology project, it was enabled by technology. To approach this endeavor like a technology project would have been a big error. The MagicBand was a transformation of the guest experience and therefore, a responsibility of every leader, not just the tech people.
4. Integration of existing and new systems is major work. Dealing with the integration was more challenging than envisioned.
The process created a realization that even more changes were needed internally.
5. Fly low. Spend more time getting into the details than usual. Be very hands-on. With transformation, the devil is in the details.
6. Transformation requires leadership through influence. Innovators needed to work across the company. It was an enormous effort to work with peers to make room for the vision.
7. Change management is about “us.” There was worry about how much change could be accepted by guests, but guests “got it” right away.
The enemy of change was sometimes the Disney leadership. “We had to hold the mirror up to ourselves,” Crofton said.
8. Think iteration—it's not perfect at roll out. It was a different experience with releasing a first version that wasn’t perfect when the company cares so deeply about experience. However, it was a necessary way of working.
9. Keep telling stories. Change can be difficult. People can get tired and discouraged along the way.
Stories of small successes inspire teams and reground them in the mission.
10. It is fun to do the impossible. There were times on the multi-year journey that it seemed like an impossible task. But the journey also was fun.
For Disney, and Crofton’s team, the hard work paid off. The friction-removing devices have been widely praised by customer experience and payments professionals.
“I knew I had been part of legacy work,” Crofton says of her time leading the effort to develop the MagicBand.
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