Friday, December 07, 2012

The Difference Between Walt Disney and Robert Iger

From Seth Godin:
"Capitalists take risks. They see an opportunity, an unmet need, and then they bring resources to bear to solve the problem and make a profit.

"Industrialists seek stability instead.

"Industrialists work to take working systems and polish them, insulate them from risk, maximize productivity and extract the maximum amount of profit. Much of society's wealth is due to the relentless march of productivity created by single-minded industrialists, particularly those that turned nascent industries (as Henry Ford did with cars) into efficient engines of profit.
"Industrialists don't mind government regulations if they write them, don't particularly like competition or creativity or change. They are maximizers of the existing status quo."


Floyd Norman said...

And, that's why Walt Disney and Steve Jobs are such remarkable leaders.

Most industry CEO are lightweights, fearful of risk and change. They'll maximize profits but will do little else.

Daniel [] said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel [] said...

Well, that's a non-standard use of each word.

The original meaning of “capitalist” was no more or less than one who possessed capital. (It has since come also to mean an advocate of capitalism in an unfortunate context in which “capitalism” has no settled meaning.) Instead of “capitalist”, Godin would better have used the word “entrepreneur”.

And, while the vast majority of industrialists behave much as he describes, that's not really ex definitione. The word “industrialist” refers to one who owns or manages an industrial enterprise; that includes an entrepreneurial minority. It would perhaps be good to have a distinct word for the technocratic and plutocratic industrialists, but none has taken hold.

richard o'connor said...

Thanks, Daniel, I was going to make the same remark but in more hamfisted manner.

There's obviously something to the statement even if the meaning of his definers needs to be shifted.

Anonymous said...

In all honesty: do you think corporations like Disney buying propertires like Star Wars are inherently bad?

Mark Mayerson said...

No, but Robert Iger is far more interested in buying other people's creative work than in developing Disney's own. Disney used to blaze trails; now they just buy them and pave them.

Peter said...

The difference is really between an entrepreneur who has grown his busines into a success, and a CEO brought in to run a successful company after the original entrepeneur has gone.

The original entrepreneur sees the company as an extension of himself, and feels free to follow his own instincts as to how the company should develop, taking the same sort of gambles that made him successful in the first place.

The CEO has a resposibility to the board and shareholders to maintain the company's profitability in as risk-free a manner possible. Hence the move throughout Hollywood from Studios as Producers to Studios as Distributors - less risk!

It is a dilemma for all successful businesses - management for survival. If a CEO gambles and wins, he's a genius - if he gambles and doesn't win, he's a dangerous maverick, and history!

I suspect Disney and Ford are more similar than anything else - both entrepreneurs building up successful businesses.