Create Synergy with Systems (Part 3)

Systems work when they are followed with precision, when everyone is doing the precisely same things. Ray Kroc knew this, and he believed deeply in adherence to a systems approach. In fact, in 1961, Ray created McDonald’s University where people would be trained on precisely how to build a successful business.

Today a McDonald’s costs between $1 million and $2.2 million to start. Surely, someone with that kind of money, who is already an entrepreneur, will come in and want to be creative. They will want to use their own ideas. They won’t want to be told precisely what to do. Surely someone has looked at Ray Kroc – a simple man with no college education and with business experience that was limited to selling multi-mixers – and said:

“Look, I like your system. I think you guys have done a good job. But, I am a successful business person. I have my own ideas. I am not a lemming. I paid my own hard-earned money. I own my own business. You run your business your way, and I will run mine my way. I will implement my own ideas, and I will run my own business.”

Surely, someone must have said that over the past decades.

So, how would Kroc handle it if someone wanted to do it their own way? Would he think, “They paid the franchise fee. It’s their business. They can do what they want?” No. McDonald’s would take away their franchise license.

Did this kind of control create conflict and friction? Did this kind of control kill individual creativity? No.

The exact opposite happened. Following the system with precision created synergy!

Stephen Covey describes the effects of synergy like this, “Synergy, lets us discover jointly things we are much less likely to discover by ourselves. It is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Synergy is better than my way or your way. It’s our way.”

The more precisely the franchisees followed the same system the more synergy was created. In fact, menu items that went on to generate billions of dollars in sales, were created and designed by the franchisees, not by Ray Kroc. Those items included:

  • FILET-O-FISH® (1962)
  • Big Mac® (1968)
  • Egg McMuffin® (1972)
  • McChicken® (1980)
  • Chicken McNuggets® (1981)

Not only did following the system with precision not kill creativity, it cultivated creativity. The system unified the franchisees.

When a franchisee had a good idea they would test the idea in their own store to make sure it was viable. Once it was proven, McDonald’s would put it into the system.

As a business owner, it can be difficult to get all the different personalities that in your organization to work together. Getting your team to learn, teach, and duplicate a system can be very challenging. You must continually work to perfect the system, improve the results, and teach unity.

Once the system is working people will adopt it. Further, you must remind your organization that you are stronger together than you are apart. The true power of synergy is created when everyone is working and learning together. That’s when the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Having a duplicable system will help you create synergy.