This is posting is taken from an earlier review we wrote of Fred Lee’s interesting book “If Disney ran Your Hospital”. We felt it prescient to highlight the interesting attitude Disney has developed toward learning and the motivation to learn – and we offer this as a hierarchy of learning, to the e-learning industry that has for far too long focused on Compliance. However, with the emergence of what we see as “Push Pull”, e-learning has every chance to deliver the ultimate in habit forming learning!

To begin with, Fred Lee looks at Disney’s approach to motivation and learning, and sees four levels operating in the organisation, which is certainly not unique to Disney:


Doing what someone makes me dothe weakest form of motivation to learn


Doing what I believe I should do…even if I don’t like doing it” – requires a good level of motivation and self- discipline and can engender a degree of cynicism (especially if it is not practised at the top of the organisation) 


Doing what I need to do because I feel like doing ita high level of motivation. I have changed my feelings toward a task or behaviour pattern, and no longer need the sanction of compliance of the action of will power.


“Doing what comes naturally – the most powerful form of motivation. I didn’t think, as our lifelong pursuit of competence and character is an effort to replace bad habits with good ones.

What is interesting is how Disney seeks to address the journey of taking its learners from merely Complying to Habitually good behaviour aligned to the organisations requirements of their people.

Habit, argues Lee, is another word for talent. “Develop and motivate people so they will have habits for success in their role; find the perfect match for role and talent by a continuous cycle of improvement.”……one of the most succinct expositions of what Talent Management should be!

So how is this done in the world of Disney? Well it helps if you are on the Disney bus, and buy in to the values of the organisation, but the values and approach are a little surprising:

Create a culture of dissatisfaction with the “as is“.  In the world of Disney this is undertaken by continuous customer satisfaction surveys, where the belief is that the organisation can always do better, and only a perfect score is acceptable!

Now for those of us running a business, who have been judged on this metric, relax.  Disney, so Lee tells us, does not take sanctions against poor customer satisfaction surveys, (providing you are on the bus, no doubt), but instead suggests to its employees to:

‘Build a dream’ of how it could be better. (Disney is big on dreams to its customers as well!) However, this is more than some abstract vision or corporate mission statement, as it is about providing the knowledge to overcome the gap between “how it is” and “how it should be” in order to fulfil the dream. This is the learning and development gap, and dissatisfaction is the engine to overcome organisational inertia and complacency. This, in turn, leads to the ‘drive for competency’ based on the belief that it is the primary source of pleasure to the individual – powerful eh….job satisfaction is a key motivator, and so many people do get a buzz out of doing the best they can, and too often too many employers  forget that!

Why this is interesting to us from an e-learning perspective is that all too often it is organisational inertia or learner unwillingness that is the barrier to the adoption of e-learning and learning technologies. – We need to work on the learner’s dream of how e-learning (or learning) can make their job so much better.

Furthermore we see the emergence of the “Push Pull” model of e-learning being at the Willpower and Imagination level as the catalyst of delivering the highest level of learning, and with the correct learning culture (should we say dream) it will effectively embed to achieve the highest level of learning: Habit!