Don Thompson’s Recipe for Growth

McDonalds president and COO reveals why innovation and diversity make the Golden Arches sizzle

they may not have the same financial wherewithal to be able to visit us in our restaurants. We’ve adapted quite a bit. We have our expanded dollar menus but also things like breakfast which is one of the heaviest hit areas. So you have to continue to adjust. I think if you’re there for customers through these tough times, they’ll be there for you as the economy gets better.

What is the biggest business challenge you face?
For the past seven years we have experienced global comparable sales increases in every area of the world, and we’ve increased market share as well. We’re working hard to stay aligned around our business priorities in every market. A challenge we face is to not become complacent with the positive results we’re achieving. We continue to set aspirational targets for our markets.

How has McDonald’s been able to fend off competitors such as Subway and other fast food chains?
One of the reasons we’re doing well is our growth beyond our traditional industry with new food items and beverages like McCafé Coffees, Frappés, and Real Fruit Smoothies; extended hours; as well as a renewed focus on our classic menu favorites and breakfast. We’ve reached outside of the traditional quick service industry to serve customers new and different products with the service, speed, and convenience they expect from McDonald’s.

Share with us McDonald’s approach to innovation.
R & D happens every day at McDonald’s. There is always someone somewhere, whether they are in the restaurants or another area, that gives me and our team feedback about what products we should offer or a different type of service. [Innovation] related to human resource development [focuses on] how we train our talent for tomorrow. We created a leadership institute which help us to do a couple of things. One, it exposes our senior leaders and leaders throughout the organization to a more strategic approach to business. The other thing is it allows us to see who the up-and-coming leaders within our corporation are.  So innovation takes place in all forms whether it’s human resource development, operating system development, supply chain efficiency, or those things customers see in a restaurant which is our menu pipeline.

How did you develop the current menu strategy? How do you test whether a new item resonates with customers?
Our menu strategy as well as our broader business strategies are focused on existing and emerging customer trends. We have a strong pipeline of unique food items that resonate with customers in every area of the world. Our efforts are grounded in consumer research and testing, and we allow customer feedback to guide future menu development.

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  • Ken Hunter

    I just want to say thanks to the board of “Micky D’s” for the trust they have put in Mr. Thompson to increase shareholder value!