Saturday, November 18, 2006

Remarkable Consistency

I have to admit, I don’t go to McDonalds that often. However, last week while driving through the Netherlands, I couldn’t help but notice the pervasiveness of McDonalds. I must also admit that I am a big fan of McDonalds French Fries.
Last week, the temptation was too great. I stopped, ordered a large French Fries and Coke. It was the same French Fires and Coke that I managed to get every time I succumb to the temptation. Korea or Japan; Texas or Oklahoma; Paris, Amsterdam or Rome it is always the same.

Of course, that is what we expect when we go to McDonalds. Product consistency is one of the hallmarks of the McDonalds experience. Along with national now international marketing, product consistency is what made McDonalds remarkable.

Unfortunately, what was once remarkable has become ordinary. McDonalds has been so successful at replicating their consistency that we have come to expect this level of consistency as the baseline of any product we buy from a national brand. The fact of the matter is, to succeed in any business whether fast food or technology consulting, if you are not delivering the same level of consistency that McDonalds has established as the benchmark, your organization is dead.

So, how has McDonalds manage to make the most remarkable consistency ever achieved by a hand produced product an ordinary expectation. I chatted with the manager at the McDonalds in the Netherlands and this is what she said.

The success of McDonalds relies upon consistent product delivery enabled by four overriding components:

  1. Crew members who show up when they are scheduled to work; who learn and perform the tasks they are required to perform; and who treat the customer right.
  2. The most consistent and efficient internal management development systems in the world.
  3. The most consistent and efficient restaurant systems in the world.
  4. The most consistent and efficient distribution systems in the world.

In short, McDonalds relies upon a world-class distribution system, terminating with a well defined operational system run by internally developed managers who provide oversight of dependable people.

Which brings me to the point I’m trying to make; McDonalds-style consistency may have become an ordinary expectation in the big-business world of fast food but can the same be said for most small to medium sized business and organizations.

Is your organization the termination point of a world class distribution system? Does your organization have a well defined production system? Do you have a consistent process for developing managers who have experience working your production systems? Could you succeed with front-line employees possessing little more than basic work skills and the potential to grow?

If you answer “No” to any of these questions, your problem is not a lack of leadership development at all levels of your organization. Adding more leadership will not get you to the “Yes” answers.

Rather, your problem is execution: supply chain management; operational systems definition; and management development.

The “Yes” answers are found by Knowing the Machine: understanding your value proposition and how your organization delivers that value to the customer not by buying the Conventional Leadership Wisdom the Leadership-Industrial Complex pushes as the answer to every operational problem.

Would your organization benefit from McDonalds-style consistency? I’ll bet you the dollar you’re going to spend on your next leadership book that it would.

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Take care...

John

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