The Wall Street Journal reports that one of the key reasons for the continued success of McDonalds restaurants during this financial recession is the power of change. From oatmeal, to fruit smoothies, to caramel-mocha beverages, to frozen strawberry lemonade, McDonald’s is one of the most innovative and experimental companies out there. This Spring they’ll be testing flatbread sandwiches and “garden” snack wraps. As a representative put it: “Change is a part of our business, to keep up with customer demands, and there have been a lot of changes.” Understanding the importance of change has made it the nation’s best performing restaurant during this economic downturn. They’ve posted 30 straight quarters of same-store increases. In the old days, McDonald’s focused on it’s core customers with the same items. But today, they’ve responded on a number of different fronts with lower budget items, healthier choices, and more.
And food isn’t all. They’re experimenting with being open 24 hours, remodeling thousands of stores, and offering free Wi-Fi. In some cases, there have been so many changes, they’ve had to advertise that they’re still in the Quarter Pounder and Big Mac business.
What do changes at a fast food restaurant mean to you?
First, when customers change, you need to respond. Customers, donors, and supporters are fickle, and organizations who learn to be nimble will be successful. The rest of the organizations, well…
Second, the culture drives trends, styles, and new ideas, and that’s nothing to be afraid of. That’s why we need to be aware of the world around us. Are you watching the trends and considering how it applies to you? It’s not about chasing relevance, it’s about seeing where the culture is going. As hockey great Wayne Gretsky put his success, “I don’t skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it’s going.”
Finally, invest in change. Make it a core part of your business, church, or non-profit organization. Your employee training, company policies, strategy, and vision, all need to figure change into the equation.
The world is changing whether you like it or not, or whether you’re ready or not. Get used to it or get ready to be a has-been.