If you visit Hollywood Studios within the Disney Parks of Orlando, you will most certainly cross paths with a Stormtrooper, and when you do, you will more than likely see a Stormtrooper.
Now, these Stormtroopers are not just people in costume waving to you in the park, willing and ready to take a picture. These storm troopers are brash, disciplined, and rude. They are not social; they are soldiers. They tell you to get out of the way. They give commands. And if you ask for a picture, they will go as far as to refuse it (at first anyway). When you walk away from your interaction with a Disney Stormtrooper, you will not walk away with feels of disappointment, but rather of ‘THAT WAS AWESOME’! Because the person in the costume FULLY embodies the persona of a Stormtrooper. If it was anything less; if they half-assed it in ANY way; “Get out of the way! Sorry, haha, I’m just kidding. Doing the Stormtrooper thing,” you would feel short-changed. It would be lame. “They didn’t commit! I want the one that’s really into it.”
We love the Stormtrooper because that person in the costume embodies the Stormtrooper, and for a moment, it may even let us forget that it is just someone playing a character. If a company or team implements a culture and if they don’t fully commit, fully embody it, LIVE IT…if they half-ass it in anyway, it’s going to feel lame, inauthentic, temporary. It will become a passing fad and the ‘buy in’ won’t last.
If you have new values or pillars, use the language of those values and pillars. If there are systems for accountability and assessment of the culture, assess it and hold people to the agreed to culture. If people don't want to participate in it, invite them to find a new opportunity.
You have to imagine there are days where the people in those costumes are thinking to themselves, “I just don’t want to do this today,” but they do it because the second that character doesn’t fully show up, the customer is disappointed and doesn’t look as forward to the next interaction. Likewise, there are days where you will feel like we are faking it until you make it and days you just don’t want to do it, but the minute you give up on the cultural standard or tone, that’s when your team will say “I told you so…this stuff isn’t who we/they are.”
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE STORMTROOPER?
1) Fully Commit to the Culture you want to set: use the language, hang the posters, talk about the values, et cetera.
2) Do it every day and consistently. It will get trying. You won't see results right away. But if you falter or back down, it will go away. And then 6 months from now when you want to 'reset the culture', your team will know to put up with it for the time being, but it will eventually go away.
3) It's not about 'putting up with' it's about your team enjoying it because it's invested and authentic.
4) Stormtroopers are supposed to be jerks. Don't be a jerk :)
Anything new takes some warming up to and feels odd at first. At first you may be put off that the Stormtrooper at Disney won’t just take a picture, but at the end of the day you are glad that they stuck with what they wanted to create.