You absolutely must read Harvard Business Review’s interview of Bob Iger by Adi Ignatius. At least, you ought to listen to the audio interview. Bob talks about the challenges in becoming CEO. He talks about his predecessor and his responsibility as second in command to be loyal to the one in charge. He also expresses respect to Michael Eisner for the opportunities he had to express at length his opinions and ideas–not in some public forum–but in the quiet moments behind doors in an office or on a plane ride.
Iger also talks about an ongoing tension in the organization usually described as “traditionalists” versus “modernists”. He changes the tenor of the conversation to be more about “heritage” and “innovation”. In that context, he honors the importance of both to the conversation of building and preserving the Disney brand.
My thought is that Bob Iger is no Walt Disney. But as a CEO, he does a tremendous job of trying to gather as many Walt Disneys around the castle as he can. Of course, there was only one Walt Disney, but Bob plays an important, even Arthurian-type role in building a culture that allows the Steve Jobs and the John Lasseters, as well as many other individuals whose names are less familiar, to have their creative voices be heard at the table. It’s not perfect, but it is more poised for excellence than it has been in the last 40 years.
Hats off (or Mouse Ears) to Bob Iger!