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2 Jun 2014

At Disney, Scheduler or Extemporizer?

Christopher Palmeri reports in “Disney Bets $1 Billion on Technology to Track Theme-Park Visitors” (BloombergBusinessweek, March 7, 2014) that Disney is leveraging big data to personalize their guests’ experiences. This means encouraging them to preschedule their entire visit, thus reserving limited spots on certain rides and reducing wait times. Downside is less spontaneity.

Freedom - Order (Chaos-Slavery) Duality

Schedulers produce order from chaos; Extemporizers produce freedom from slavery

The predictably mixed reactions Palmeri reports highlight a personality schism, the freedom-order duality, I often observe in the workplace. Simplifying for this study we find schedulers (order) versus extemporizers (freedom). Schedulers love it, gaining more control and efficiency over their time. Schedulers produce order out of chaos, giving form to an undefined, potentially wasteful experience at Disney. Extemporizers hate it, losing spontaneity and enjoyment in living the moment. Extemporizers produce freedom out of slavery, escaping the routines and mundanities of work and home for Disney.

The reactions and debates demonstrate how much we underestimate and underappreciate the differences in us as humans. It’s easy to forget that our target audiences, when viewed from varying vantages, often shatter, losing their monolithic qualities.

The article made me recall speech and debate days from high school. Our team needed both talents, scheduled speakers and extemporaneous ones. The first gave the same talk at every tournament for the whole season. The second received different topics every time with often less than twenty minutes to prepare.

As examples, TED talks are highly scheduled, rehearsed and choreographed. Practice often lasting months. At the other extreme, we have pundit panels with lively exchange. In between, we have interviewers with some scheduled questions and with some spontaneous depending on guests’ responses.

Whether it’s speaking, enjoying Disney or working, while some blending occurs, schedulers will often find it difficult or unenjoyable to function as extemporizers and vice versa. Fortunately though, we need both.


Related Post: Real-time Personality Assessment: Freedom-Order Duality


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