Skipping Church and Going to Disneyland Could Improve Your Business

Such blasphemy!  How dare I suggest that we could learn ideas from a secular business and apply those strategies to a spiritual endeavor!

[ Keep reading for 7 Tips To Create A Breakthrough When You’re Creativity is Stuck ]

I know I upset a few people on that church board when I told them that we were going to take a field trip to Disneyland to study how the park’s guest services create a memorable experience for people. 

Maybe they thought we should tour a casket manufacturing facility. That might have been fitting because the average Sunday morning experience was more like a funeral — a man dressed in black handed you a paper folder and asked you to sign a guest book, organ music echoed through an empty chapel, and a monotone preacher pontificated on the doom of the day.  And they were not quite sure why their church was in decline?

I believed that if the primary message for a church was supposed to be about hope, joy, and life — then the experience on any given Sunday should be aligned with that message. The problem was that most of the leaders couldn’t see how to change their routines because their only point of reference was other churches just like theirs. What they needed was a different vantage point.  So we spent an afternoon at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” and then I asked them to imagine how they might implement a few ideas to make their church the “Happiest Church in the Neighborhood.”  They came up with some excellent ideas and slowly implemented their new found enthusiasm.

Businesses are not any different than that church. Routines become monotonous, enthusiasm beings to fade, customer traffic (attendance) and sales level off or decline. The leaders know that something needs to change, but they can’t imagine how to make it work because their only point of reference is their unique industry.


If your business has plateaued or your career is stagnant – go on a field trip!


Here are some tips to help spark your creativity through the experience of a new viewpoint:

  1. Identify one or two specific challenges you know need to change. 
  2. Pick a couple of businesses outside of your industry that are excellent examples of what you want to create.  (The more unlike your business, the better).
  3. Request a “tour and talk” with the leaders of those businesses.  Let them know you admire their success and the purpose of your request.
  4. Experience the visit from the customer’s viewpoint, not the operations side. (This is similar to a secret shopping experience.  You can see the operations side later). 
  5. Then, debrief with the leaders or managers of that business. Ask them to explain the reasons for their process and success.
  6. Next, identify the things you could change.  Create two lists.  One for small adjustments you can do immediately.  The other for more extensive efforts that need time and planning.
  7. Finally, start making those changes!

The value of analogy – looking at your business “as if it were like” a very different entity – is an excellent method to lift the fog of old thinking and initiate some fresh ideas.

Here are a few businesses to consider for your field trip:

  • An entertainment venue (i.e., sports, theater, amusements)
  • A school.
  • A unique restaurant.
  • A church
  • A transportation business (i.e., local transit, airline, etc.)
  • Agriculture
  • Any innovative business. Think big and small. Maybe you could learn some great things from a Mobile Dog Grooming company or a food truck!

It only takes a few hours of analogous experience to create a long-term transformation for your organization.

The church made some unorthodox changes and realized that what we think is sacred is sometimes just a personal preference that has become a barrier to a greater purpose. They began to see a new trend – growth. Their new attitude and methods opened the way for a new impact in their community.  

Let me know what you discover on your field trip!

Here’s to your success!

~  Steven Iwersen, CSP

Book Steven for your upcoming event or a special training session for your team – email [email protected] or call 913-406-3824.

Steven is the author of Porcupine Philosophy: 365 Leadership Points to Ponder and The Porcupine Principles: How to Move Prickly People to Preferred Outcomes