It’s no secret that Bob Chapek was not very popular amongst the ranks at The Walt Disney Company. The former Disney CEO was known as someone who was primarily focused on numbers and figuring out ways to drive up profits while decreasing spending, something many people felt he took to an unacceptable extreme. He was also thought of as someone who didn’t focus on the importance of creativity. While that may work at certain companies, it didn’t go over well at Disney, where creativity has been the primary focus for decades.
Finally, after months and years of discontent at Disney, the Chairperson of Disney’s Board of Directors, Susan Arnold, announced that Bob Chapek was fired and would immediately be replaced by former CEO Bob Iger.
In a new report from The Wall Street Journal, we have learned that Chapek, along with CFO Christine McCarthy, were looking at taking most of the creative power away from the creative executives just weeks before Chapek was terminated.
Throughout his short tenure as CEO, Chapek was always looking for ways to centralize power and cut costs, which led him and McCarthy to hire the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Part of McKinsey’s suggestions included taking marketing and advertising power away from creative executives and putting them in the hands of Kareem Daniel, Chapek’s right-hand man and the head of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the suggested move by McKinsey did not go over well.
The plans that were emerging rankled some of the entertainment company’s top content executives, already reeling from losing power over spending decisions on content, and became one of several points that exposed a further rift between the creative and corporate leadership of the company during Mr. Chapek’s brief reign as CEO. Some executives told colleagues they felt that the changes would strip them of nearly all of their power, people familiar with the situation said.
While Chapek never really seemed to prioritize creativity over money, it looks like that is set to change under Iger. Iger had always put creativity front and center, and says that he will continue to do so now that he is back. At a recent Town Hall meeting held by Iger, the CEO said, “It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are.”
The Wall Street Journal also noted that the McKinsey consulting plan was never completed and that it is unknown if Iger planned on implementing any of the changes McKinsey suggested. Kareem Daniel was also let go from Disney just days after Chapek.