Walt Disney method

Disney method Robert Dilts - ToolsHero

This article explains the Walt Disney method in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful brainstorming technique.


Apart from being a legend in the film industry, Walt Disney (1901-1966) was a creative mind and inventor with a broad strategic view on business. As a result, Disney became the symbol of ‘the American dream’. He built a successful business empire based on his creativity and great ideas.

His innovative method of working is still being emulated by many companies and is known as the ‘Walt Disney method’, further developed by Robert Dilts.

Walt Disney method: different perspectives

Walt Disney was a master at converting fantasies into reality. His most important starting point regarding the Walt Disney method was to look at something from different perspectives and include all these ideas in his final conclusion.

Whenever he had an idea for a film, he did not only think about how the film would come across on the screen, he also examined ways to produce the film. Then he would put himself in the critical shoes of the audience and adapt the film. Finally, the film was ready for the public.

The assessment from multiple perspectives (Walt Disney method) complemented each other well and resulted in a blockbuster.


To emphasize various perspectives, Disney used the three roles that were discussed simultaneously or consecutively. The following patterns of thought in this method are essential factors to achieve success:


A dreamer is not hindered by strait-jacketing but is creative and imaginative and sees limitless opportunities.


The realist looks at the practical possibilities to find out whether an idea is really feasible. The realist looks at aspects such as the available amount of means and time.


The critic does not the criticize the plans of the dreamer or the insight of the realist, but looks at a plan like an observer and filters out and removes all crucial mistakes.
Walt Disney method room - brainstorming techniques | ToolsHero

In practice

To successfully apply the Walt Disney method, three places must be reserved within the same room in which the role of ‘dreamer’, ‘realist’ and ‘critic’ can be assumed in turn. In large brainstorming sessions three separate rooms can be used in which the ‘dreamers’, ‘realists’ and ‘critics’ can discuss the ideas separately and consecutively. Subsequently, the work will continue in three phases.

Phase 1

The objectives are looked at from the perspective of the ‘dreamer’. The creative and visual thoughts that come up should not be hindered by reality and possible risks. The Walt Disney method is all about brainstorming power and the quantity of all the ideas that have been submitted.

Phase 2

In this phase the possible ways to achieve the objective are looked at from the perspective of the ‘realist. This concerns the ability of making a dream a reality. Limitations and possible risks should therefore not be seen as obstacles but as challenges.

Phase 3

The ‘critic’s’ perspective will be used to represent how the end user will experience the plan or idea. Possible risks and gaps will be critically examined and changes and areas of improvement will be submitted.

More information

  1. Capodagli, B., Jackson, L., Hammond, J. S., Keeney, R. L., & Raiffa, H. (1999). The Disney Way. Audio-Tech Business Book Summaries.
  2. Dilts, R. (1995). Strategies of genius. Meta Pubns.
  3. Imagineers (Group). (1996). Walt Disney imagineering: a behind the dreams look at making the magic real. Disney Editions.

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