In this issue
Like most American Baby Boomers, I'd always associated the Walt Disney Company with Walt himself. He was the guy who pulled the curtain back on The Wonderful World of Disney, invented the feature-length animated movie with Snow White in 1937 and opened the gates to Disneyland in 1955. But it wasn't until after the company hired me to write a book about its service delivery strategy in 2000 that I understood that the foundations of the Disney empire had been built by a brother act.
The fox and the hedgehog at Disney
Maybe the founder's nephew didn't know much, but he did know one big thing.
Walt Disney never saw fit to bless the Archilochus fable “The Fox and the Hedgehog” with its own animated adaptation, so you may have forgotten its moral: The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. That moral comes in handy when we assess last winter's collision at the Walt Disney Company between its fox of a CEO, Michael Eisner, and its hedgehog family standard-bearer Roy E. Disney.
Successful family businesses make sound decisions. The quality of decision-making affects all the major issues that entrepreneurial families face: succession planning, estate planning, business planning, family strategic planning and even the decision about whether to sell the company.
Yet many entrepreneurs I've met don't think of decision-making as a complex set of tools, designed to be used in a variety of ways for different purposes. Knowing which decision-making method to use in which circumstances prevents interpersonal conflict. It also enhances business growth.
Even as kids growing up in suburban New Jersey in the 1970s, brothers David and Peter Lucadano wanted to be in business together. “We didn't play games like other kids,” says Peter Lucadano, who at 33 is 18 months younger than David. “Instead, we would dream up make-believe businesses in which we were partners.”