Using the Disney Method

by Paul Sloane

The Disney Method is a parallel thinking technique which has some similarities with the Six Hats. It is particularly useful as a group analysis tool for an issue and it leads to idea generation and idea review. The team adopts four different thinking modes as outsiders, dreamers, realisers and critics.

Using the Disney MethodInitially the group thinks as outsiders and review the facts, data and external viewpoints regarding the issue at hand. They might take the roles of consultants, customers, suppliers or competitors in order to get a more rounded view of the issue.

The group then leaves the room and re-enters (or goes to another room) but this time as dreamers. They strive to imagine an ideal solution without any constraints. They brainstorm all sorts of ideas to resolve the problem using divergent thinking. No criticism or judgment is allowed. Many ideas are generated and written down.

The group leaves the room and then returns as realisers – realists with a practical, constructive mindset. They review the ideas that the dreamers generated and apply criteria to converge on the best ideas. Once they have selected the best idea they work it up into a project plan with costs timescales, risks and benefits.

The group now turns to the fourth thinking style and everyone becomes a critic who reviews the plan in order to identify problems, obstacles and risks. They are not negative or cynical but critical and constructive. Their objective is to spot the issues with the plan and to make it better.

At this stage the process might be complete or you might want to go back to one of the other styles in order to get an outsider’s view of the plan, to dream of new or enhanced plans or to work as realisers on the details of the plan.

Some people find this method easier to use than the Six Hats. It will generally deliver good ideas and a well-considered project plan.


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Paul SloanePaul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader and editor of A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing, both published by Kogan-Page.