Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Two Men Who Dropped Their Tools: Steve Jobs and Walt Disney

Drop Your Tools by Karl Weick shows us that the best leaders are the ones who drop the complicated tools in favor of easier ones that will get them down the same road even more efficiently than previously imagined.

The article reminded me of Walt Disney – a man full of, to quote the article, “intuition, stories, and imagination”. He proved that you didn’t have to be a traditional businessman to be a great leader. One of his quotes was, “Man needs a new set of problems to pull his mind away from old ones.” What he meant was, “Drop Your Tools”. Disney was not the best animator. Instead of using his old tools, he offered to send his employees to art school. Those who took advantage of this opportunity learned new and better ways to animate. The remarkable part was that Disney relinquished some creative control while he started developing new tools in others. This pushed Disney to have an uncompromising value for his employees and a determination to be one step ahead at all times.

Speaking of being one step ahead at all times, another person this article made me think of was Steve Jobs. Like Disney, he was an ideas machine. Jobs refused to give his customers what they wanted. He gave them what they would want in the future. This may seem irrational, but dropping your tools is about having wisdom and foresight. Jobs also insisted on simplicity. He demanded that the iPod have less than three clicks to get songs. He knew that a quality product would sell if most of the complications were removed.

Both Jobs and Disney were branding giants in large part because they would not settle for less than a superior product. We have much to learn from these two men who seemed to be able to tell the future on pure intuition.


  1. Reminds me of the quote by Lewis Carroll from Alice in Wonderland:

    Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

    Disney and Jobs believed in impossible things and then made them happen.

  2. I love that Lewis Carroll quote, too! So pertinent as "dropping your tools" is all about thinking and eventually implementing the impossible.