Managing innovations and creativity – How Disney keeps ideas coming

Seminar Paper, 2005

12 Pages, Grade: A- (1,7)


Table of Contents

1. Introduction to the case

2. Literature review in the disciplines of innovation and creativity

3. Analysis of Disney’s way of managing innovation and creativity

4. Conclusion


1. Introduction to the case

The movie industry is one of the industries with the highest demands on innovation and creativity. Hence, creativity and innovation are vital for long term business success. Innovate or die, as Gary Hamel (2000) says. The case study ‘How Disney Keeps Ideas Coming’ describes how Disney - one of the most successful American movie companies – achieves a high amount of creativity and innovation. The following case report discusses Disney’s approaches for achieving creativity and innovation.

During the following case study report, I will first start with definitions of innovation and creativity. After that, I will compare Disney’s approaches with the identified approaches in the literature concerning creativity and innovation in organisations. At the end of the report, I will give a conclusion and summarise the main findings. I will not include a separate chapter about how I would encourage creativity in my organisation. This would depend mainly on the employees, the industry, the organisation, the company size and the business model of my organisation. Nevertheless, I will analyse and assess suitable methods for encouraging creativity and innovation in the text.

2. Definitions of innovation and creativity

Innovation and creativity were already discussed 300 years before Christ but are still very popular and important topics. (Allison, 2004) Heraclitus wrote about the continuous flow of events which changes the present permanently. (Freeman, 1993) According to him, there is no status quo which remains unchanged. This description sounds like the ideal processes every company should achieve in the areas of innovation and creativity. In addition to that, Ecclesiastes developed the philosophical concept that no idea is unique because it was already thought or is based on other ideas. (Freeman, 1993) If you focus now on the current definitions of innovation and creativity, it can be said that innovation is defined as “the introduction of new ideas, goods, services, and practices which are intended to be useful”, according to Wikipedia (2005a). In addition to that, the definition for creativity retrieved from the web site of Princeton University is “the ability to create”. Nevertheless, Wikipedia (2005b) defines creativity as “a tool to develop innovation […]. Today, creativity forms the core activity of a growing section of the global economy—the creative industries—generating wealth through the creation and exploitation of intellectual property or the provision of creative services.”

I also believe creativity leads to innovation and therefore it needs to be fostered (Nemeth, 1997). Applied on the case study it can be said that creativity leads to ideas (especially it can lead to ideas for stories or myths for a movie) which are the basis of a great movie. This movie can then be seen as an innovation. After the definition of creativity and innovation, I focus now on Disney’s approaches for managing creativity and innovation.

3. Analysis of Disney’s way of managing innovation and creativity

After a basic literature research and the analysis of the Disney case study, I identified the following two areas which support creativity and innovations at Disney:

- Management system & leadership,
- organisation and hierarchy.

Starting with management system and leadership, one the one hand it can be said that Disney’s management team empowers employees and gives them autonomy in selected functions. But on the other hand it must be stated that Disney also works with strict deadlines and boundaries resulting in pressure. Amabile, Hadley & Kramer (2002) from Harvard Business School think that pressure and tight deadlines are not suitable for fostering great ideas. They argue by using the example of Darwin’s success which was based on careful preparation, detailed research and various voyages to the Galápagos islands. Nevertheless, deadlines and budgets are necessary to set a general framework. (Drucker, 1985) A very creative movie would not make sense for Disney if it would be unprofitable. In addition to that, Brown & Duguid (2001) illustrate how important timing is for innovations (they use the example why Microsoft Internet Explorer is more successful than Netscape Browser). Therefore it is somehow necessary to work with schedules and deadlines.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


Managing innovations and creativity – How Disney keeps ideas coming
University of Auckland  (Faculty of Computing)
Seminar am Unitec Institute of Technology Auckland New Zealand
A- (1,7)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
449 KB
This paper gives an overview over management approaches in the fields of innovation and creativity. In addition to that, a literature review is included and the relevant literature from American and European business schools is discussed (in particular publications from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford). A case study highlights how creativity and innovation are managed at Walt Disney. Keywords: Kreativität, Innovation, Walt Disney
Managing, Disney, Seminar, Unitec, Institute, Technology, Auckland, Zealand
Quote paper
Andreas Weth (Author), 2005, Managing innovations and creativity – How Disney keeps ideas coming, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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