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Using the Walt Disney Method for Innovation Management

The Walt Disney Method provides organizations a systematic framework to creatively solve problems and innovate. This approach that comes from Walt Disney includes three different phases: Dreamer, Realist, and Critic. Each phase plays its own part in the creative process and aims to balance imaginative thinking with practical assessment and critical evaluation.

Let’s learn and explore the Walt Disney Method and how businesses can utilize it for innovation.

Understanding the Walt Disney Method

The Walt Disney Method consists of three phases:

  1. Dreamer Phase: This is the step of brainstorming any idea that crosses your mind and imaginative thinking. The aim is to generate several ideas without any limitations or criticism.

  2. Realist Phase: Here the ideas from the Dreamer phase are examined to check if they are feasible and practical. This is done by assessing the resources, potential challenges, and implementation strategies.

  3. Critic Phase: This step’s main focus is on analytical thinking to scrutinize and improve the ideas. This is important to identify weaknesses and areas for improvement for a robust and well-rounded solution.

Why Use the Walt Disney Method?

Promotes Divergent and Convergent Thinking

The Walt Disney Method balances two crucial types of thinking: divergent (generating creative ideas) and convergent (evaluating and refining ideas). This dual approach enhances the depth and quality of solutions.

Holistic Exploration of Ideas

Working through the Dreamer, Realist, and Critic phases allows teams to study problems from multiple viewpoints. This ensures that the creative process is well-rounded and thorough.

Enhanced Team Collaboration

The method encourages team members to leverage diverse skills and perspectives by taking on varying roles. This creates a collaborative environment where ideas are imaginative and also grounded in reality.

When to Use the Walt Disney Method

The Walt Disney Method is beneficial in various situations:

  1. Idea Generation

  2. Project Planning

  3. Innovation Workshops

  4. Overcoming Creative Blocks

  5. Team Collaboration

  6. Product Development

Implementing the Walt Disney Method

Step 1: The Dreamer Phase

Have a brainstorming session to start off and invite all team members to share their concepts openly. The focus is on creativity and imagination without any criticism or constraints. Use tools like whiteboards or sticky notes to capture all ideas.

Step 2: The Realist Phase

Transition to the Realist phase by evaluating the feasibility of the ideas generated. Assess the practical aspects such as resources, time, and potential challenges. This phase involves detailed planning and realistic assessment of how the ideas can be implemented.

Step 3: The Critic Phase

In the Critic phase, critically analyze the ideas and plans. Identify potential weak areas, risks, and aspects for improvement. Invite constructive criticism to improve and enhance the ideas.


The effectiveness of the Walt Disney Method relies on iteration. Cycle through the Dreamer, Realist, and Critic phases multiple times to continuously refine and improve the ideas. This iterative process ensures a well-developed and robust solution.

Example of Implementing the Walt Disney Method

Let’s consider an example of an organization that wants to establish a new mobile app for project management.

  1. Dreamer Phase: Teams brainstorm features such as tracking of tasks, real-time collaboration, and integration with varying tools.

  2. Realist Phase: The team evaluates the feasibility of these features, considering available resources, technical requirements, and market demand.

  3. Critic Phase: The team critically analyzes potential challenges, such as user interface design and security concerns, and identifies areas for improvement.

  4. Iteration: The team cycles through the phases again, refining the app features and addressing identified issues.

Benefits of the Walt Disney Method

Comprehensive Idea Exploration

By encouraging both creative and practical thought process, the Walt Disney Method allows a thorough exploration of concepts, leading to innovative and well-rounded solutions.

Improved Collaboration

The method enhances team collaboration by encouraging members to adopt different roles and perspectives. This collaborative approach leverages diverse skills and expertise.

Balanced Creativity and Practicality

The method promotes a mix of creativity with practicality, ensuring that solutions are both imaginative and feasible. This balance is essential for success in innovation and problem-solving.

Challenges of Using the Walt Disney Method

Overemphasis on Separation of Phases

Strictly adhering to the distinct phases without flexibility can stifle creativity. Allow organic transitions between phases to maintain a creative flow.

Premature Criticism

Introducing the Critic phase too early can inhibit the free flow of ideas. Ensure that the Dreamer phase is free from judgment to encourage uninhibited brainstorming.

Failure to Iterate

The method's effectiveness relies on iteration. Neglecting to cycle through the phases multiple times can result in underdeveloped ideas. Improving continuously is required for high-quality solutions.

Tips for Successful Implementation of the Walt Disney Method

  1. Embrace Flexibility: Aim for natural transitions between phases instead of rigidly adhering to them as creativity is at its peak when not constrained by strict boundaries.

  2. Encourage a Non-Judgmental Atmosphere: Especially during the Dreamer phase, create a space that allows team members to share any idea without fear of criticism.

  3. Document All Ideas: Keep a record of all ideas generated while brainstorming. This helps in revisiting and refining concepts during the Realist and Critic phases.

  4. Promote Iteration: Encourage teams to repeatedly cycle through the phases to refine ideas continuously. Iteration is fundamental when it comes to creating robust and innovative solutions.

  5. Balance Roles: Ask team members to take on different roles to utilize different perspectives and prevent groupthink. This helps to comprehensively explore the ideas.

  6. Use Visual Aids: Utilize tools like whiteboards, sticky notes, and digital collaboration platforms to effectively visualize ideas and streamline the brainstorming steps.

  7. Foster Open Communication: Encourage clear and open communication and make sure that all team members are aligned and informed.

  8. Regular Reflection: Have reflection sessions regularly to evaluate the process and outline areas for improvement. This helps in refining the method for better outcomes.

Ready to Use The Walt Disney Method For Your Business?

The Walt Disney Method offers an incredible framework for creative problem-solving and innovation.

First Loop offers comprehensive workshops and training programs to help you effectively use the Walt Disney Method and other innovation management tools.

Give us a shout at

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