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Quantfury Daily Gazette

Would you like complacency with that? — McDonalds’ lack of innovation

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We’ve all been there. Well, at least those of us that live near a McDonalds.

It’s a hot summer day and you have a craving for a delicious hot caramel sundae. Or, maybe it’s March and you want a green milkshake (despite being a little concerned about what exactly makes it green). Perhaps, it’s just an average Tuesday and you want an ice cream cone.

It doesn’t really matter the reason because the problem is going to prevent you from having whatever it is you wanted anyway.

That problem: A sign on the door telling you that the ice cream machine is out of order. No frozen treat for you!

It’s an issue so frequent at McDonalds that there’s a website dedicated to tracking where machines are out in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. As of current writing, there were 9.09% of machines out of order in those four countries.

That’s an absurdly large amount of disfunction and an expensive problem for the franchise owners that are losing sales and spending money to get them back up.

There’s a great article in Wired right now that is detailing this problem and the reasons for it. The long and short of the article is that the machines McDonalds uses are needlessly complicated and notoriously fickle. However, the real headline of the article is that there is some third-party technology out there that has proven to be quite good at saving the franchise owners repair costs, as well as helping them get the machines back online faster.

That’s good, right? Efficiency that’s driving more profits. Pretty much the business model that McDonalds was founded on. McDonalds has to be thrilled, you’d imagine.

You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.

As detailed in the linked article, McDonalds is instead trying to block the use of the outside tech and instead is promising to figure out an internal solution.  Franchise owners are being told not to override the machine to fix themselves and are instead reliant to using the same technicians that they have in the past that were costing them time and money.   

This is all part of a more global issue facing franchise owners. The right to repair is something they have clamoring for now for years. Those calls have largely fallen on deaf ears.

Without drilling down into the right-to-repair issue, or talking about this specific McDonalds problem, any further, what we are dealing with here is bigger than any single concern. No, what is happening here is part of a broader phenomena of corporate arrogance, particularly from legacy multinationals – those companies that have been around so long that they have become too big to fail.

Or, at least they think they are. This is a specific issue in a specific company, but it underlines a lack of innovation and creativity. If that’s allowed to fester, these companies will lose ground to more disruptive competitors. Ironic, considering they became as big as they are by being disruptors themselves.

Think Blockbuster vs Netflix and you get an idea of what I’m talking about here. I’m not saying McDonalds is going to go the way of Blockbuster because they can’t fix their ice cream machines, but it’s part of a pattern.

Instead of thinking that they are too big to fail, companies need to consider the possibility that there is a point where they are too big to thrive.

They should also think about fixing their ice cream machines because I do enjoy a hot caramel sundae.       

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