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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Shufflebotham

How a cowboy saved the day....

Many, many years ago on a cold and wet December evening, we were finally reaching the front of the queue for the runaway train ride at Disneyland Paris. The photo below couldn't be more different to how it was that evening - it was getting dark, we were all tired and damp and the park was closing in five minutes. The end of our respective tethers were very much in sight.

Big Thunder Mountain, Disneyland Paris

And then, from behind one of the rather authentic Wild West packing crates, up popped a "Cast Member", fully decked out in all the cowboy paraphernalia. He proceeded to get involved in a high stakes hide and seek shoot out with our young kids, complete with authentic noises and jumping about. His energy and enthusiasm was contagious, and before we new it we were getting in the spirit of it all - we had a great ride and fairly bowled on back to our hotel with a new found spring in our step. Safe to say it made the kids' day, and this remains their favourite ride, a decade and more later.

As we sat down to our "Ranch Cookout" supper that evening, desperately trying not to catch the eye of Cowboy Goofy (don't get me started...), I thought about how that minute or two of "customer interaction" at the ride, had totally transformed our day and, more intriguingly, why, at the end of a long and pretty miserable day in the middle of winter, the cast member had "performed" in the way he had. I am sure it wasn't an enormous salary, or just his own personal desire to perform. Something else was at play here. This was a clearly motivated employee, who understood what the whole Disney experience is about and was ready to deliver on that at any time.

This has stayed with me ever since. How did his employer engage this guy (and presumably many others) to such an effective degree? What did they do to build that belief in him? Why was he still going the extra mile with only five minutes to go, and to an audience of no more than a dozen people?

This isn't a post about how brilliant Disney is, or isn't, but an example of how properly engaged people make any business really come to life and fly. The best strategies, processes, systems and technological wonders will only succeed if the people in the business are properly engaged with that business and what it is trying to achieve.

It sounds very simplistic but happy people are good business - research shows that they deliver 3x the revenue growth when compared to others. If we take care of our people, they will take care of business.

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