The AquaSphere. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Leading By Consensus

The AquaSphere. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
The AquaSphere. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

When you enter Tokyo Disney Sea, you are greeted by this amazing water sculpture. Its title is AquaSphere, and it’s a symbolic reminder that you are entering a park dedicated to fantastic harbors across the globe.

In their own humble history of their organization, the Oriental Land Company, or OLC, shares a little story about how this sculpture came to be the icon that now greets guests entering this park. Here’s what they share:

“Disney initially suggested the idea of a lighthouse. This is because for most Americans, a lighthouse is associated with positive images of Homecoming, serving as a beacon of a safe return for adventurous seafarers. But for the Japanese, a lighthouse brings up images of melancholy and loneliness, and so, Oriental Land did not believe this would be an appropriate symbol for a Disney theme park. Because of this inherent difference, both sides struggled to find a point of agreement. However, even in these key cultural issues, the two parties were able to continue a passionate yet constructive dialogue. And ultimately, the parties were able to draw forth a new symbol that showcases the Earth as the “water planet” befitting a theme park themed to the sea, in what was ultimately called the AquaSphere.

Incidentally, there are a few lighthouses, including this isolated building in quiet corner of the park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Incidentally, there are a few lighthouses, including this isolated building in a quiet corner of the park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

There was also a “much heated discussion” on adding the S.S. Columbia, which can be found docked at American Waterfront. In this instance, Disney Imagineers, won out on the dialogue, and OLC notes that the ship does much to add to the grandeur and scale of that side of the park.

The S.S. Columbia docked not far from the Pacific Ocean, adding to its realism (though in truth it is not built like a ship). Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
The S.S. Columbia docked not far from the Pacific Ocean, adding to its realism (though in truth it is not built like a ship). Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This is a leadership trait of the Japanese; they work by consensus. The tradition is to almost always debate an idea until there is agreement on it. Then and only then do they take action.

Ask yourself:

  • How do you reach consensus as a team?
  • Are you patient awaiting the outcome while everyone comes together?
  • Can you obtain a greater outcome when you work it through until there is a consensus?
  • Do you lead for consensus?

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