In a recent interview with Fortune Magazine, Jim Skinner, the CEO of McDonald’s is, explains one of his favorite sayings:
It’s a lot harder to make money than it is to count it
He was speaking of finance executives that lack experience in operations. Then he shares a story.
At one time, McDonald’s considered placing deli sandwiches on its list of menu items. But after some testing, they rejected the idea because sandwiches couldn’t be made within 55 to 60 seconds. According to Skinner,
We talk about hospitality, we talk about friendly relationships, but we live in world of speed today.
McDonald’s customers at the drive through don’t want to be chatted with, and they don’t want to wait two minutes for a turkey sandwich.
This is interesting, especially in comparison with the model Starbucks has chosen to follow in the application of Lean. There, the customer is sometimes interested in chatting and in socializing. With certainty, the McDonald’s customer is not interested in that. So, from a service perspective, service offerings need to account for both types of customers.
In either case, however, speed is critical and plays a vital role in its business strategy.
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What a fine example of how applying LEAN, or any process improvement tools, requires that you first understand the business and the business model being employed, before you try and apply the process improvement tools. Every business is different.
I am reminded of coming to a company a few years back as a member of a new management team. The prior management team had hired outside “lean” consultants who attempted to apply some “cookie-cutter” lean by designing workcells & installing “flow” racking. Well, the “workcells” didn’t work, & the “flow” racks actually impeded work-flow. Even worse, “JIT” became synonymous with failure. We had to re-think how to introduce lean concepts without using any of the standard “lean” vocabulary!
While we were successful in implementing a very lean production system, the process was hampered greatly by the failures of the past. Had we not acknowledged that, and spent the necessary time to “learn the business”, we too would have failed.