Pixie Dust Panic
Have you ever experienced the pressure that builds as a project is coming under completion? That’s called Pixie Dust Panic by Imagineers at Disney. If you get a chance, buy a copy of Building a Better Mouse by Steve Alcorn & David Green. It’s the story of electronic Imagineers who designed Epcot. This is a riveting tale about how these folks worked to get the attractions up and running for the opening of Epcot. I promise you, after you read this book, you will never look at The American Adventure in quite the same way. In my role at the Disney Institute, I brought many executives from other businesses behind the scenes to see how this mammoth show continues to cycle hour after hour, day in, day out. It is an amazing site. But this is the story of how they managed to get that to even happen in the first place. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.
In the book they refer to Pixie Dust Panic. This is when people are being stretched to work 20 hour days with no time off. This is when you start to see the worst in people. This is when personalities change and tempers flare while the clock counts down. People walk out, and others get fired on the spot. But despite it, the work gets completed. Here’s just one way Pixie Dust Panic manifests itself:
“In the course of troubleshooting several things in the pit today I get the feeling that everybody’s hanging over our shoulders like the vultures. They want to know what’s going on, but every time we pass along a little bit of information they latch onto it and run around telling everybody, even if they don’t understand it. If they would just leave us alone so we could do some serious troubleshooting, we could come up with some solutions. They’re well intentioned, but counter productive. We probably did a grand total of thirty minutes of troubleshooting spread out over an entire day of trying to explain to people what we were doing.”
Again, that’s just a taste of what this team endured. But you get the picture. In fact, you’ve probably experienced it. What do you do when people get into Pixie Dust Panic? Better yet, how do you keep people from getting there in the first place?