Management tips from McDonald’s

Jim Skinner, CEO of McDonald’s, was interviewed in Wall Street Journal and discussed his philosophy of management. Seems to me that his 5 tips apply to all businesses, even the lawyering business.

1.   Focus on people, leadership development and succession planning.
       People make the law practice move — the direction of the movement is dependent on your relationship with staff and with clients. Don’t forget adversaries. Dedicated and loyal staff enable the firm to grow and profit. Without loyal clients, there is no reason to be in business — we would have no business. And civility toward adversaries doesn’t weaken your position, and often gets you more than you would otherwise. My mother’s phrase, which I’m sure most of you have heard, is "You get more with honey than with vinegar."

       When I worked with several large law firms to develop a Disaster Recovery plan, I soon realized that we were discussing more than that, we were discussing business continuity and succession planning in the event of a disaster. Disasters "are not if, but when" kind of events. And law firms need to be prepared for the inevitable challenge. We may not know what the nature of the challenge will be, but we certainly know that the odds of a disaster of some type will befall our law firm … and we need to be prepared to handle it in advance of it happening.  For this reason, see our Special Report on Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity. (To be release in March 2007.)

2.   Face the facts. Listen to your customers (clients) because they will tell you what really matters.
       Listening can take many forms. Simple, informal Q & A sessions work great while you’re representing your client. Don’t wait until after you’ve finished the engagement. By this time, it’s too late to make mid-course corrections if needed.

3.   Have a plan of action. Stick with it, align your team around it and focus on execution.
       Several of my books and articles relate to planning. Both books and FREE articles can be viewed at our web site.  I’ve quoted John Wooden before when he said "Failing to plan is planning to fail." That’s what McDonald’s is doing. And the CEO seeks to engage his management team so that they all have the same agenda for the company.

4.   Have the discipline to pursue continuous improvement.
       This reminds me of the story about Casey Stengel (manager) and Mickey Mantle (star home run hitter) of the New York Yankees. The former wanted Mantle to hit for singles — that could win ball games. Mantle wanted to hit home runs — that brought glory to him, excitement to the fans and occasionally won ball games. Mantle’s compensation depended on his home run production. Stengel’s compensation depended on winning ball games and getting into the World Series.

As people in business, you are not seeking the ultimate grand slam home run. That rarely happens. But, you do need toseek continuous improvement in order to maintain (and increase) your skills and stay competitive.

This leads to an interesting discussion about the impact of the law firm’s compensation system on its planning process. They must be in harmony  to be successful.

5.   Be passionate and committed to your business. All the way in or all the way out.
       Need I say more about this?


Categorized in: