The manager of Calgary city has come under criticism this week after it was revealed he spent almost $70,000 on a one-day Disney seminar – but both he and the mayor have defended the decision.
“In order to get focus in an organization, to concentrate on the things that you need to be focussed on, you have to have a business model that you follow, that sets out what it is you’re trying to accomplish,” said city manager Jeff Fielding.
“So, Disney does that very well. Anybody who goes to visit their park knows exactly what they intentionally manage.”
Dubbed “Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence,” the course was offered through McMaster University and was attended by 58 directors in January last year.
“I think it was money well-spent,” Fielding said. “I’m conscious of the fact going forward I need to be able to create those opportunities again.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi also hit back at critics, suggesting they were overlooking the value of the educational session simply because it was linked with Disney.
“If we’re going to look at every single training program, every single thing that we do, every consultant that we hire just because it happens to say Disney and it’s fun to make Mickey Mouse puns, I don’t think that’s a particularly useful exercise for me,” he said.
Fielding said the course price had been “negotiated hard” and said two staff had been sent to Ontario to examine the training before the city committed to a Calgary seminar.
He also revealed that the emphasis of the Disney program had been on intentional management and creating a collaborative culture.
“What we’ve really tried to do is build a culture that’s collaborative,” he said. “To be seen by the public working together as opposed to in isolated silos. We’re still working on that. We’ve made some significant changes.”
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