In the movie The Founder, two remarkable discoveries occur that shape the fast food industry for years to come. The original founders, the McDonald brothers, and the subsequent founder, Ray Kroc, each had epiphanies that drove their success. Within a very short period of time, each found an “X-Factor” that gave McDonald’s a massive competitive advantage over the competition.
Described in his book Scaling Up and in his Fortune article titled “The X-Factor”, Verne Harnish describes the X-Factor as the 10-100x competitive advantage that organizations gain by solving an industry bottleneck or revolutionizing the marketplace with a new way to create customer value or conduct business.
The McDonald Brothers Redefine the Drive-In Dining Experience
In the first clip from The Founder, one of the McDonald brothers state that their goal is to reduce the drive-in dining experience from an order being ready in 30 minutes down to a nearly-unbelievable 30 seconds. This push for innovation solves a long-standing restaurant industry bottleneck and fundamentally creates “fast food”, the rapid production process that has formed the backbone of chain restaurants for decades.
This was not merely an example of “lean”, as the YouTuber posting this clip underwhelming declares in the video title. I’m a big fan of lean, but mislabeling this achievement as equivalent to mere process improvement is an insult to innovators and entrepreneurs everywhere. This was a change, a magnitude shift, that would alter an entire industry despite some early adoption hurdles shown in the last minute of the clip. This was the McDonald brothers finding an X-Factor that would re-shape how the world perceived the speed, quality, and value of the drive-up dining experience.