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McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook did a sit-down interview with the New York Times, in which he outlined the issues facing the company and the degree to which such an enormous enterprise can embrace real change.

Some excerpts:

• "My priority is to first of all call it a turnaround and then start to deliver actions to get the business moving. We’re a large business, a global business in more than 100 countries, and we had gotten used to a certain way of doing things. What I’ve looked to do is try and become a change agent for good, to create the behavioral changes, the cultural changes to really embrace urgency, adopt a higher tolerance to risk and just encourage people to make decisions ... What I’ve tried to do is just add that sense of urgency. We have a huge amount of talent in the business, and we just encourage people to feel confident in their convictions and alter their decision-making — and let’s get going."

• "What I’ve found most rewarding is the speed with which the organization has embraced the challenge. We’ve done certain things internally like restructuring our global business, which was a fundamental change in the way our operating business is structured. Which after 40 plus years of having the business structured in that way, the manner in which all of our people embraced the change, recognized the need and the benefit of it, has been really rewarding to me. It kind of encourages me to go harder and faster.

• "There’s absolutely no doubt consumers have more choice than ever, and the standards of all that provide food have improved over time. Our No. 1 priority is — and it’s as simple as it sounds — is to run better restaurants and consistently."

• "Our franchisees are independent businessmen and businesswomen. They set their own pay scales, and over time, they’ve been expert at that. They, just like the company, we recognize we’re in the service business and therefore we want to hire and train and retain the best front-line staff we can, and pay is part of that package to attract the best and retain the best. But there’s no doubt there’s upward pressure on the operating business as a result. It’s an above-inflation cost increase, and therefore in order to manage that, we then need to grow the topline of the business to help accommodate those costs.

"But also what we’re working really hard on is to see it less as just a cost but more, if you like, as an investment. Because if we get a more high-trained, high-motivated staff in our restaurants, turnover comes down, our productivity improves and we deliver a better day-to-day customer experience. Ultimately, the customer benefits from the investment we’re making."
KC's View:
I continue to think that investment has to be the byword for McDonald's and its franchisees ... they have to invest in better food and better employees, and see those things not as costs but as absolutely necessary if the company is going to thrive.