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ANAHEIM, Calif.-There are lessons in management to be had for credit unions from a man who has taken more than 10,000 trips on Disneyland's Jungle Cruise.

Lessons in inspiring creativity. Creating collaboration. And becoming a more effective leader.

All of that was shared by Bruce Kimbrell, who teaches and consults now as part of the Disney Institute, the external training arm of the Walt Disney Co., but who began his career 30 years ago operating boats on the famous ride.

Kimbrell, a 30-year member of Partners FCU, spent more than an hour with credit unions during CO-OP Financial Services' THINK Conference here. "We don't believe you can just adopt these things," he said, referring to Disney's various operating philosophies, "but we do believe you can adapt them. I agree that many of the things we share (as management advice) are common sense, but as common sense as they are, I will tell you emphatically they are not common practice."

Kimbrell told credit unions they should not discount the lessons learned by Disney simply because their own organizations are so much smaller. "A lot of people say you can do these things because you're Disney. That's a big fat lie. We are Disney because we do these things."

There are four components to fostering greater creativity and resulting innovation within an organization, according to Kimbrell: Collaborative Culture, Organizational Identity, Structural Systems and Leaders' Role.

"The culture of Disney is that financial results/repeat business is not our goal; it is our reward," said Kimbrell. "Eight out of 10 people are repeat visitors. We know from some very heavy research that there are three reasons why people come here, why they come back, and why they would recommend others to do the same. Do you know why people do this with you?"

To build a Collaborative Culture, Disney focuses on four things: Passion for the purpose; shared values; communication, trust and variety of perspectives.

Kimbrell said Disney also strives to do something else: think inside the box. "When we think inside the box we think about the vision of what we're talking about, for whom the vision is for, the mission of the vision, and then the essence. At end of the day we have to think of how the guest is going to feel, because that's what they're going to walk away with."

Kimbrell noted Disney is highly dependent on its front line, nearly all of whom are 17-25. When he asked credit unions who knows the most about what's going on with members, his audience responded "tellers." But he asked how many credit unions actually listen to their tellers.

"Leaders who listen are leaders who learn," he said.

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