Wednesday, June 21, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Kindness Makes You Rich Style

In concert with other blogs, The Scratching Post publishes a blog entry each week about acts of kindness called The World of Good (WOG) Blogburst. A full description of our WOGs can be found here.

Today’s World of Good post is a deviation from what we’ve done in the past. This time we focus on how good deeds can make you rich and how hostility makes you poor.

Walt Disney Corporation has an annual gross income of 31 billion dollars. A large portion of that comes from their theme parks. One of the biggest reasons Disney theme parks are so successful is that they have made acts of kindness and good deeds an integral part of their corporate culture.

Is anyone still reading this? Any time some blogger goes on about “corporate culture” it’s a good bet that at least half the readers have clicked away. :-)

Disney is determined to make money. They make money when you come to visit Disneyworld. One of the biggest reasons you go back to Disneyworld for more visits is that the employees are nice people. They keep the park clean. They give you directions with a smile. They go out of their way to make your visit fun.

These nice people are helping make $31,000,000,000 per year for Disney. Kindness pays.

Quality Digest Magazine has an article describing this. Kotler and Armstrong’s classic text Principles of Marketing describes Disney’s approach as well.

The real Disney magic lies in the company’s obsessive dedication to “make people happy”…The company orients all of its people – from the executive in the corner office to the monorail driver to the ticket seller at the gate – around the customer’s experience…The job of each cast member (Disney shorthand for employee) is to enthusiastically serve Disney’s “guests”…They are taught to be enthusiastic, helpful and always friendly. They learn to do good deeds, such as volunteering to take pictures of guests, so that the whole family can be in the picture. Cast members are taught to never say, “it’s not my job.”
Contrast this with another world famous organization.

Recently, Hamas was elected to lead the Palestinian government. Their opponents, Fatah, have had disagreements with Hamas. In typical fashion, they are resolving these disagreements through violence and bloodshed. Recently, members of Fatah attacked government buildings and destroyed large portions of them.

They wrecked their own buildings.

What’s the result of their approach? Gaza and the West Bank have an annual gross income of about 2.5 billion dollars, or about 1/12 of what Disney makes. Kotler and Armstrong’s text claim that the theme parks make up 30% of Disney. That means the theme parks alone make more than 3 times as much as all the Palestinians put together.

Many arguments can be made against comparing these two entities and drawing any conclusions at all. Allow me to rebut them with this.

Is there any question that kindness pays?

We have done many other World of Good posts and we urge you to explore them further here.

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K T Cat said...

Rather than post as a sock puppet, I'll be honest and say I'm writing this comment to encourage more comments. Many times people don't want to be the first to comment, but will open the comments section if they see someone else has done so.

It's a little duplicitous, but I'm really curious to discover your reaction.

Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion for why you haven't gotten many comments. First, what is the average width of the letters in this comment as they appear on your screen? Second, what is the distance that light travels in one year?

The problem is that you can't really you use the same tool to measure both distances. It's part of human psychology to adjust to a certain scale on a given occasion of having to do work. For example, we dark adapt when we leave a brightly lit area and go into darkness. The adaptation process makes our eyes more sensitive to light in the amounts available in the darker area. In fact, humans can work at roughly three different scales of light intensity.

The same thing happens here. On a "goodness" scale, Hamas is like the width of one of the letters in this comment and Disney is like one light year. The scales are so different as to be disconnected (as they are if you reverse and use a badness scale). Thus, you can't really do more than say "They're different." You can't talk your way into a useful estimate of how different Hamas and Disney are, anymore than you can see in the darkness with a light-adapted eye or see in the light with a dark-adapted eye. And the annual income data actually compound the problem because the two annual incomes are on the same scale. So, in a way, they draw attention to the scale problem that prevents us from getting any message other than "Hamas bad, Disney good."

YMMV, of course, but that's my take. However, please don't look upon the above as any sort of condemnation of your very interesting WOG post - the post has done for me what it should: got me thinking about things in a way I haven't thought about them before.

submarineguzzler said...

I want to say, firstly, that this was an excellent post! I do, however, need to challenge certain conclusions in a different (and more sensible way) than patrick challenged them.
The idea that good intentions uniformly generate productivity, positive results and even economic prosperity is clearly flawed. One doesn't even need to be religious to see the truth in the message in the Biblical Book of Job, or the famous Kushner book "When Bad Things Happen To Good People." The idea that kindness and good intentions, at least, have a CHANCE of generating good things while the unseemly intentions of lowlifes like Hamas have NO CHANCE of that is, however, absolutely correct.
Not ALL of the Walt Disney Corporation's motivations and attitudes are so thoughtful, kind and friendly. There are now PLENTY of Disney products made in Chinese sweatshops. Ironically, the outsourcing of those manufacturing jobs (and others like them) will lead to fewer families being able to come and spend money at their theme parks. Their management people are, thereby, being unkind to the North American worker, the inhumanely-treated Chinese worker and Disney Corp's own long-term viability. They are doing so for their own immediate profit margin and instant gratification w/o concern for what the next generation, at Disney or elsewhere, will miss out on as a result of their selfishness.
Disney Corp is also rather excessively friendly and generous with Planned Parenthood/pro-abortion interests. Perhaps no one wants that can of worms opened here, but I will point out that those affiliations are rather "odd" for a company that has built its reputation on providing healthy, wholesome entertainment and learning materials to enhance the quality of life of children.
I can summarize the subject of your thread and my position on it without bringing the speed of light or the anatomy of the human eye into the matter. Both corporations (Disney) and governments (unfortunately Hamas) are expected to generate revenue, create prosperity and well-being to those who are part of them. Disney Corporation, though much smaller in geographical scale, is very successful at this because it has, at least historically, entertained people by making them embrace happy and positive thoughts and feelings. Hamas does not touch warm, loving, positive chords in the people under its wing and, as a result, is relatively useless and destructive in comparison to the Disney Corp. In fact, the limited revenue it has "generated" is probably tied, in some way or other, to misguided generosity or charitability on the part of the West or Westerners. With the reservations mentioned earlier in the post, I do, in principle, agree with you.
I look forward to seeing more in your Blog!

K T Cat said...

Thanks to both of you for some very well-reasoned and valid comments. I knew this was a weird post when I wrote it, but I just couldn't resist.

Yes, bad things happen to good people. Yes, evil people sometimes do well. I would suggest to you that it is much more likely for nice guys to finish in the upper 50% and evil swine to finish in the lower 50%.

Look at the difference between the blossoming AOL customer service scandal and my experience with Wells Fargo.

As for Disney getting stuff from China, well, the Chinese have to eat, too. You could look at that as contributing to the economic development of the poor. Once upon a time the mills in Lowell, Massachussetts were just such sweat shops. Without them, we wouldn't be where we are today.

Anonymous said...

I think this was guzzer's point - the Chinese people DON'T eat because the people who own the sweatshops do not treat their workers well or give them a fair wage. It is a travesty that a purportedly wholesome and good coorporation such as Disney, does not consider the person behind the product.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post adn thoughts, KT. I, myself, am no fan of the new Disney (as opposed to the one set up by Walt, complete with full family values, which sadly, the "new" Disney does not adhere to), but you make the good point that positive public image goes a long way for promoting one's cause adn position-- at least for the vast majority of folks in our commercialized world this is certainly true. Image and spin can sure turn good into evil and evil into good. Even though this might not be exactly what you are saying, it is the essense of it, I think. Even though the Palestinians have had some very valid points and issues, they have made it hard to sympathise wtih their cause....or the spin doctors have made the most out of their reactions, at least.