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Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's Mass Market Paperback – August 2, 2016
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THe great strength of this book is that you get Kroc's view of what makes himself tick: he devoted himself relentlessly to a single business purpose within the capitalist system, was open to suggestions from talent that he cultivated regarding that purpose, and adapted it as he needed to thrive. It is a remarkable story of a man who re-made himself many times, and began what became the McDonald's corporation in his 50s! You simply have to respect what he accomplished at a time when most men would have given up.
The pillars of his business model are well known: 1) it is more an ecosystem of separate companies that grow together with long-term bonds of trust and the highest standards of professional conduct; 2) it pursues operational efficiency while refusing to compromise safety and cleanliness; 3) it is adept at finding innovations pioneered by both its suppliers and owner-operators and then disseminating them into the system; 4) it sticks to its core competency - hamburger and fries - and with few exceptions listens to consumers. That is about it, really, in an idealist version, but it explains why the company's many competitors failed to grow as big and fast.
During the process, furthermore, Kroc did not go for making a quick buck - by selling franchise rights for a killing or gouging his owner-operators by monopolising what supplies they had to buy from him - and focused instead on treating his suppliers and owner-operators fairly, reasoning that if they could thrive, so would he. No other fast-food chain did that.
Of course, as an autobio, Kroc focuses far more on the bright side of what he has done. He does not ask himself any hard questions and comes off, not surprisingly, as distrusting of the motives of his critics as well as the legitimate concerns of many intellectuals and political activists. While open-minded, we see, he was myopically focused on refining his business model and hence unaware of his impact on the wider society.
Moreover, except for some quotes and quirky details, the business issues are also covered better in McDonald's Behind the Arches, by John F. Love. But then, both are authorised versions of the McDonald's view. The reader will need to look elsewhere for more thoughtful critiques.
Recommended. The curious reader can get a lot from this book.
It took 20 years to make McDonalds an overnight success and before Ray had made any significant wealth. During most of that time Ray was estranged from his wife and daughter. Everyone that built the company with Ray was eventually pushed out for younger management. Ray ends up marrying one a franchise owners wife (who by all accounts is happily married but trading up). And there is more.
So Ray retires to San Diego (beautiful weather, beaches) where he buys a baseball team and dies a few years later.
Was he really able to enjoy his success?
Ok I agree that the key to happiness and well being is growth and improvement and in his business life Ray did that as well as anybody. It just seemed he missed so much by way of a personal life. This feels to me like a bad tradeoff. When I consider his legacy was building a world-wide organization that prays on the ignorant with genetically modified crap that will cost society billions in medical bills. Was it really worth it?
On a positive note I loved the story! My favorite pick-up from the book was "Were Green and Growing", referring to Ray's constant quest for improving best practice standards and staying grounded. Without question Ray Kroc was one of the top 5 innovators of the century. My question is did this innovation help us or hurt us?
Read this interesting book to learn more.
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I just found all of this far too self-congratulatory, all things considered. Meh.
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