TO MILLIONS OF PEOPLE of all ages, the late Walt Disney was a smiling, benign man who delighted the world with the Mickey Mouse cartoons, Disneyland amusement park and movies like Snow White and Mary Poppins.
But to the people who worked closely with him at the Walt Disney Productions lot in Burbank, Calif., he could present somewhat different view. To them he was genius, but moody genius. If he liked an idea, he was lavish in his praise. But if he disliked an idea, he could be abrupt, curt and bitingly critical. Says Roy O. Disney, Walt's 74-year-old brother and chairman and president of Walt Disney Productions: "Walt simply had no patience with anyone who would settle for second-best." As result, Disney people sometimes worked with butterflies in their stomachs trying to come up with "what Walt wants."
The results, however, both for the company and the public, justified the means. Walt's approach was effective one for managing : creative enterprise-for as long as he lived. It kept up steady flow of ideas, the lifeblood of any creative business. Out of the always lively byplay between Walt and his aides came : remarkable string of commercial successes that made Disney Productions $116-million business that last year netted over $12 million. And because Walt Disney was such a catalyst for ideas, talented men were willing to work for him.
Toil and Trouble. The only trouble was that, no matter how big the company grew, it revolved almost completely around Walt's personal judgment. It was inevitable that what is now described as chaos should erupt after Walt died last December.