We want to continue our discussion about the importance of safety at Disney. Safety is priority number one. It may not be exactly the priority in your business. For instance, you may operate an insurance company. There the first priority might be Trustworthiness. But the concepts in these next few posts can be applied to whatever priority you make as the most important.
One of the first park decisions Michael Eisner made was when he approved the building of Splash Mountain at Disneyland. This was a big decision–as he put it: “equivalent to green lighting a high-budget movie: both risky and expensive.” Understandably, he was anxious and excited to see it constructed.
As the mountain was finally filled with water and as logs started going through their paces, Michael wanted to take his son Anders on the ride. They would be the first to experience it. Usually the process involved several steps before people were to try it out. But Michael was insistent. As they went down the major fall, they were nearly decapitated by a board resting across the track downstream. From then on, he was no longer permitted to talk the construction supervisor into letting him test new rides whenever he felt like it.
Remember: No one plans on being unsafe. It’s simply that something more important than being safe comes to mind and we rationalize what matters most. One of the key behaviors listed yesterday in our posting, “How Safe Is Disney?” was: “I take action to always put safety first.” Also, another basic that we didn’t list is one that is expected by leaders. That expected behavior is “Model and teach The Four Keys Basics behaviors to Cast Members.”
Lesson learned: If you as a leader don’t demonstrate being safe, don’t expect everyone else to. The same with whatever priority you name as being the most important. If you don’t model that value as being the most important value, don’t expect others to.