Our Unique Culture

Dear Fellow Owners,

It’s been a busy week at our hometown and our country. It pains us to see the injustice, the disruption, and the general discontent we are witnessing across America. We are entering a new world, much of it will be better, but nevertheless change is hard. We are use to change at McDonald’s. It’s been the constant in our 65 year history. Ray wasn’t afraid of change, after all he said “he didn’t know what we would be selling, just that we would be selling more of it than anybody else.” We have adapted to many changes across the years. We went from a walk up hamburger stand, to a technology enabled global icon. And yet there are key components of our brand that haven’t changed. We are still about Happy Meals, we are still about speed and simplicity, and we still represent an All American Ideal which no matter how far the country strays from, we do not. We have gone in and out of popular fashion over the years but America relies on McDonald’s for something that only we have; our culture.

Our culture is unique. Many authors have documented this culture over the years. They have commented about the unique diversity we enjoy (Behind the Golden Arches), the complicated history we have with the African American community (Franchise; the Golden Arches in Black America), and our generous but conflicted founders (Ray and Joan). There are numerous others led by the famous “Grinding It Out”. All of these authors highlight the fascination that America and the globe have with the Golden Arches. It’s true our cheeseburgers are very good, our fries are world class, and even our Coke tastes better, but there is something else at work. Our culture enables us to stay true to our principles and yet execute in an ever changing world. Ray believed in America entrepreneurship and ingenuity to overcome all obstacles. And he knew those entrepreneurs needed the flexibility to do their work. He employed a democratic method that few other corporations have been able to master. That’s why we call it the system and not just the company. We are a system of franchisees, suppliers, and corporate counterparts.

Democracy is messy as we are seeing today.  Most corporations and brands could not handle the democracy behind the Arches. They couldn’t handle the differing view points, opinions, and diverging interests (we wonder if our country can). It takes time tested protocols, voting mechanisms, and unifying leadership to make it work. It takes a commitment to the system even if it means sacrificing our own individual interests. It means being there for each other because we know it’s the right thing to do. We count on our culture to protect us and to produce. It has and will continue to do so. It represents the best of America and allows our best to shine through.

Speaking of the best, we heard from Courtney Henry this week. Courtney’s leadership in Minneapolis is to be commended. No training class prepares you for the events that have happened, but culture does. Courtney told us about how he and his fellow owners mobilized for our brand and our communities. You could hear the gratitude and determination in his voice. There are many Courtney’s out there doing amazing work and making us all proud. That’s what our culture produces. It produces leaders who don’t shrink in the face of adversity but meet it head on. Persistence has always been our hallmark and America needs it now more than ever. America needs more Courtney Henrys and the McDonald’s culture delivers.

Your NOA will deliver this October in Denver. We will be putting on a show you will not want to miss. It’s going to be better than ever. We guarantee it. Mark your calendars for October 7-8. We now have many ways to get together, but face to face (or mask to mask) can’t be beat. Neither can McDonald’s culture (and it will be on full display in Denver).

Your “still believing” NOA Board

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