4 min read

The art of plussing it.

Walt Disney was famous for pushing people who worked for him to "plus it." Here's how Ward Jenkins described it:

"Walt Disney coined the term plussing as a way of making an idea even better. By telling his workers to plus it, even when they think they nailed it, gave Disney that extra edge when it came to quality animation back in the day. Pixar is a staunch believer in plussing their work. And it shows."

This is still something that lives on in the culture at Disney. One well known example comes from this clip from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

Did you notice the number of times where Roger, the animated character, interacts with physical objects? Roger knocks over the boxes before Eddie touches them. When he looks out of the peephole he knocks over a beer bottle. Roger takes his hands out of the handcuffs, and they move from mid-air to flat on the table, then he picks his cuff up and puts it back on.

'Bumping the lamp'

I used to miss all these little details, until I worked at Fuge camps during the summer of 2003. They taught us about a concept they learned from Disney corporate training called bumping the lamp. The idea is to look at your work and ask yourself, what could I do to make this the best work I could possibly do.

In the words of Walt Disney, how can I plus this work.

It's good work to make the animation of Roger Rabbit squash and stretch, stage it well, and make it believable and funny. It's bumping the lamp when you do good work and make Roger interact with the physical world to take the illusion of a talking animated rabbit to the next level.

Magic moments

At the end of August I started a new job, and I spent a week on a retreat planning the next 6 months while getting to know my new friends. It was awesome. Everyone at Wildbit is a clean-up hitter, great at their job and just plain fun to be around.

To start the week all 18 of us were sitting around a table, and we did an ice breaker where we were all supposed to share something interesting about ourselves.

Because of where I sat, I ended up going somewhere close to the middle. And man, there were cool stories. I mean cool stories. They aren't mine, so I'm not going to share them here. But as everyone shared their interesting fact, I sat silently racking my brain to think of an interesting thing to share while still paying close attention to what everyone else was saying. As my turn approached, I decided to tell everyone I love Disney World.

It's true, but it's not particularly interesting. When the attention from the table turned my way I didn't help make my fact any more memorable. I said something like, "We love to take our kids to Disney World. A lot."

I don't think it was quite that lame, but since then I've returned to this moment and rethought how I would have conveyed what makes my fascination with Disney World interesting.

Sure, I enjoy navigating enormous crowds to maximize the amount of fun we can have in a limited amount of time. My competitive nature emerges and I keep track of how many attractions or events we make before lunch time. There's a small pleasure in knowing I'm working the system to avoid the 2 and half hour wait for Peter Pan's Flight.

But those aren't the reasons I love going to Disney with our kids.

We have a knack for finding moments where plussing it creates stories I'll never forget.

On our first visit with our little girl, we took her to a princess breakfast in Cinderella's Castle in Magic Kingdom.

Pretty awesome right?

We were there early, and our reservations meant we were the first people in the Magic Kingdom. The cast member checking us in asked our daughter if she wanted to be princess of the day. She was two and half, so I'm sure you can imagine the depths of excitement she displayed in the span of a heartbeat.

On another trip during the holiday season, my wife and daughter visited the Christmas Shoppe while I rode Haunted Mansion. As they were looking around, a cast member asked if they would like to decorate their Christmas tree for the day. After they were done, the cast member gave our little one a special ornament so she could remember decorating the Christmas tree at Disney World.

On one trip we opened Camp Mickey and Minnie, and our family got to sit on the front row for Festival of the Lion King. If you aren't familiar with this show there's signing, fire dancing, gymnastics, and more singing. The theater is divided into four sections and each section is asked to imitate an animal from the Lion King.

Want to guess what happened next? Yup, a cast member asked our daughter to help lead the giraffe section during the show.

On our last trip in May the kids wanted to check out the Sword in the Stone. I've always liked the movie and when it was re-released recently we all watched it together. There was a line of families waiting for their kids to have their picture taken pulling on the sword. When it was their turn, our kids ran up to test their strength. I'm snapping pictures, and they start yelling "It's moving!!!!" Sure 'nuff, they were pulling the sword from the stone.

These stories are tangible reminders of how a little thought and extra effort can make anyone feel special. They remind me to try and find ways to make small improvements that add up to big moments.

I guess my interesting fact is I can see how they make the magic happen and I keep going back for more.