Robert M. (Bob) Allen
Chief Storytelling Officer and Founder, IDEAS
Mr. Allen was born in Norco, California. He grew up in Anaheim with Disneyland literally in his backyard. Bob began his career in the entertainment industry as a musician at the age of 16. He taught guitar and toured Europe as a singer and accompanist. Based on their performing and song writing experience in the early seventies, he and a partner formed a successful concert production company, producing over 100 commercial and benefit events in the Southwest. After graduating from the University of Colorado in 1976 with a degree in communication, he accepted a position with Disneyland's live entertainment division.
From 1976 to 1978, Allen held a variety of positions in the park's Entertainment Division including responsibility for lighting and sound design, stage management and talent booking. In 1977, he produced an experimental jazz fusion show for the inaugural summer of the new Space Mountain attraction incorporating film, video and magic techniques. Other highlights were stage management of several spectaculars, including the Super Bowl XI Half Time, and design and creative development work on Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade.
In 1978, Allen formed a production unit within the Disneyland International Division. This group conceived, developed, and produced numerous film, tape, and multi-media programs for Tokyo Disneyland. In tandem with this assignment, Bob also began work as an Imagineer on several attractions that would become part of EPCOT including The American Express TravelPort, The Future Choice Theater, Spaceship Earth and The American Adventure.
When EPCOT opened in 1982, Bob relocated with his team from Disneyland to Walt Disney World. Allen spent the next three years as manager of a media production operation within the Walt Disney World marketing division. The department grew to over forty full time staff and increased in scope to a full-fledged teleproduction company. During this period he both directed and produced in addition to his management duties. Notable among the projects were a very successful series of live, holiday television specials beginning with "Walt Disney World's Very Merry Christmas Parade" on ABC in 1983, and the implementation of production logistics for a series of massive media events.
With the announcement in 1985 of the Disney-MGM Studios project, Bob became the Florida anchor for the production focus of the operation. In August of 1987, he was promoted to Director of Film and Tape Production, overseeing the operation of the Disney-MGM Studios facilities and production groups. In 1991 he became Vice President of Disney Production Services Inc. incorporating both he studio operations and the WDW Resort Entertainment division.
He was responsible for all facilities and services at the Disney-MGM Studios as well as the operation of Disney IDEAS (Innovation Design Entertainment Art and Storytelling), a full service studio.
In July of 2001, he formed Integrity Arts and Technology, Inc. and completed a management buyout of IDEAS. The buyout allowed IDEAS to retain Disney as a client while broadening its market scope and facilitating the creation of original story-based content for converged media uses. Today, IDEAS is a media and experience design firm using the power of purposeful storytelling and “design thinking” to create brands, produce content, transform organizational culture and design and enhance immersive experiences in the location-based entertainment, hospitality and healthcare industries. The IDEAS team delivers powerful stories creating powerful results for a diverse collection of over 1000 clients from concept to execution. IDEAS’ 3500+ projects are diverse and have included new urban developments in China, re-engineering the Walter Reed Hospital patient experience fro Army Medicine, designing the guest experience for Spaceport America and creating attractions and guest experiences for Super Bowl 51.
Bob’s life focus is on community building. He has served on a number of community service organization boards and industry organizations including The Central Florida Technology Partnership, The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, The Florida Film and Television Commission, The Central Florida Film Television and Digital Media Advisory Council, The International Storytelling Center, The National Center for Modeling and Simulation, and is a past chairman of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida. He is also active with his family’s foundation The Bob Allen Family Foundation, named in honor of Bob’s father. Bob was a founding member and chair of The Florida Institute for Film Education and has worked in education as an adjunct faculty member in the University of Central Florida film school where he taught the business of storytelling and created a diversity student scholarship in honor of a former employee.
Bob is a nationally known speaker to both business and education groups on the power of story, sustaining cultures of innovation, and servant leadership. Bob has been featured in Creating Digital Content: Video Production for Web, Broadcast and Cinema, by John Rice and Brian McKernan, McGraw-Hill, 2002; Wake me Up When the Data is Over: How Organizations Use Story to Drive Results, by Lori L. Silverman, Jossey-Bass, 2006 and A Deliberate Pause: Entrepreneurship and Its Moment in Human Progress, by Larry Robertson, 2009. His own book, Zennovation-Mastering the Net Present Moment is under construction.
Bob is an ordained member of the Zen Buddhist Order of Interbeing and has taught mindfulness and meditation in a Central Florida sangha for 18 years. He is a graduate of Leadership Orlando (Class 24) and Leadership Florida (Class 15). Bob continues to believe that compassionate, creative heresy is more powerful than even the most productive adherence to dogma no matter what the research says! He resides in Orange County, Florida with his wife Pam and spends a lot of time texting with his daughter Olivia who is the coolest college kid in the world and an aspiring writer and illustrator.