Hamburger University at 50

Celebrating the same birthday as mine, McDonald’s Hamburger University turned 50 this year. So before 2011 is over, I wanted to acknowledge this major corporate university which has trained some 80,000 restaurant managers, mid-managers and owner/operators over the years.

Courses are taught in some 28 languages. And another university was established in China, where according to an article earlier this year in Bloomberg, it is said that getting into Harvard is easier than getting into McDonald’s University.

This past fall, World Class Benchmarking brought participants from SHRM’s Strategy Conference to McDonald’s University for a tour. Participants from every corner of the HR sector attended and we were wowed by the experience. They also had a chance to speak to McDonald’s Chief Human Resource Officer, Richard Floersch, about strategic steps they have taken over the last 10 years to maintain their leadership in the fast food industry. As he puts it, “We took our eyes off the fries.” In its place came a strategic focus on building the leadership necessary to taking McDonald’s into the future.

He’s further cited in Talent Management Magazine this month, discussing the challenge of uniting the business with the needed talent. He notes “There’s a lot of orchestration that goes into this, but you’ve got to connect against the business strategy. You’ve got to match the culture and the values so they feel like it makes sense for McDonald’s, and then you’ve got to have leadership that holds people accountable. When you do that it starts to cascade throughout the organization.

Such ideas stem from founder Ray Kroc, who once said, “If we are going to go anywhere, we’ve got to have talent. And I’m going to put my money in talent.” Hooray to McDonald’s for making the investment. And congratulations to Hamburger University for being in the center of that strategy.

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