McDonald’s and the Challenges of a Modern Supply Chain

Supply chain transparency is continuing to escalate in importance. McDonald’s is having a rocky time with this transition, as evidenced by the recent departure of its CEO. Steve New writes for the Harvard Business Review with three transparency lessons that can be learned from McDonald’s:

  1. Transparency needs a long game; reputational problems don’t mend fast.
  2. Global operations need consistent global standards.
  3. Sometimes transparency has paradoxical consequences.

I’m Lovin’ Transparency

 Between the so-called “McLibel trial” in the 90s and films like Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation, McDonald’s has taken a lot of hits to their image, some fairly and some unfairly. They have taken numerous efforts in recent years to clean up their act and make it apparent to the public, but rectifying an image is a very slow game. New says you need to identify and fix your problems before your critics decide to broadcast them. This rule applies on a global scale. For instance, sales in Asia dropped in 2014 for McDonald’s after a meat scandal in China. You cannot afford to roll out transparency only occasionally and regionally.

The last and most esoteric lesson is that with transparency, there also come reminders that some things are just inherently unpleasant. Not every process, like the creation of a McRib or the production of a T-shirt in a factory, is glamorous, and even an ethical process might still upset people.

You can read the full article here: https://hbr.org/2015/02/mcdonalds-and-the-challenges-of-a-modern-supply-chain

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