goals and objectives, goal setting, set and achieve goals, coaching success

Goal Setting – Hit the target every time!

Goal Setting 4 –  The Disney Strategy

The Disney Strategy is a model of the strategy used by Walt Disney. It is a strategy for managing projects and the thinking behind those projects to successfully achieve chosen goals and objectives.

How many great ideas have you had in the past that you didn’t follow through on?
How many potentially good ideas have you had that didn’t get to see the light of day because they were rejected too soon?
Even before they are off the drawing board we tend to criticise our original ideas and tell ourselves “I can’t do that!” You might consider this a form of self-sabotage.

Disney used three different thinking processes to ensure successful outcomes –
The Dreamer to come up with the original idea, dream or vision. Although these may seem like high flown words they refer to the fact that this is a purely creative process. You can of course simply substitute the word goal instead.
The Realist (or Realiser) to plan how to bring the vision into being, and
The Evaluator (or Critic as it is also known) to critique the viability of the dream and the plan.

It is important to note that the first stage of the Disney strategy is purely creative which is why it is known as the Dreamer phase. It is about using creativity to dream what you would like to have or achieve. Most people don’t realise though that criticism is the kiss of death to creativity and that usually, when we are unsuccessful, we have merged one or more of these stages and thought processes making them almost impossible to achieve.

What was different about Disney’s approach is that he subjected his thoughts and ideas to these styles sequentially, whereas most people attempt to use all three styles at the same time producing unclear, confused and muddled thinking that frequently results in great ideas being jettisoned

Indeed part of what made Disney so successful was his ability to keep these stages distinct and separate i.e. he did not contaminate one stage with the characteristics of any of the others.

The function of each state is:


  • To imagine freely without limitation
  • To use “thought experiments”
  • To describe the success criteria
  • To select the vision (based on desire!)

This is a purely creative phase hence the name. At this stage there is no question of how the objective will be achieved, or even if it is possible! The sole objective is to let the mind run free and daydream is you will, coming up with as many possibilities, potentials and choices as you can.

You need to satisfy the question – WHAT do I want to create, achieve, have happen?

This thought process should be solely fuelled by desire rather than practicality.


  • To get an accurate understanding of current reality
  • To determine what constraints exist
  • To determine what needs to be done, by whom, and by when
  • To chunk dreams down into steps and devise action plans

This is the planning stage when we begin to consider the nuts and bolts of our chosen goal. We have dreamed the dream and now (and only now) we begin to get real.

When Disney was working on an animated film this was when he would use storyboarding. A visual step by step plan of the finished production.

The question to ask here is – If the dream is possible, how can I make it happen?


  • To evaluate the vision and plan around the success criteria
  • To notice inconsistencies and potential pitfalls and obstacles
  • To identify missing elements
  • To take into account other people’s viewpoints and feelings
  • To consider whether the vision fits into the larger system (ecology)

This must always be the final phase. All too often we kill the dream by bringing it into play too early, right at the start. Many so called impossible dreams have been realised because of the faith, belief and motivation to make the dream a reality!

Some important questions to ask at this stage are – what could go wrong? What haven’t I thought of or taken into account? Are there any negative consequences to achieving this goal?