“Their Best Days are Behind Them” – The “Catch-Up” and the “Cut-Back Syndromes; Do They Signal Desperation (McDonald’s and Breakfast all-day)

McDonald’s is about to start serving breakfast all day.

I think this is a good thing. I might even, on occasion, stop in and buy some breakfast at a non-breakfast time of day.

But this move by McDonald’s has more the feel of a “catch-up” move — almost a “desperation” move — than a move that feels like innovation…

As I thought about it, my mind wandered back to a conversation years ago with a top-notch church consultant. He was a very smart man. And he talked about the danger of the “cut-back syndrome.” He said that when an organization (like a church) starts cutting back, it has the look and feel of desperation. And that can be deadly. It hurts morale, and it sort of signals “our best days are behind us.”

It’s that phrase that is the big one:

“Our best days are behind us.”

And when others start tweaking that phrase:

“Their best days are behind them…”

Well, when that thought catches on, a company or organization is in real trouble.

To keep yesterday’s organization successful for the long-term — that is one great big challenge!

I thought of this also as I read Uncontainable. Garrett Boone, co-founder of The Container Store started in the Paint Department at Montgomery Ward. There is no paint department left at Montgomery Ward. There is no Montgomery Ward left…

And, you just know that there were people talking about “cutting-back,” and catching-up” in the Montgomery Wards of the world. And, despite their best efforts, ultimately they could not keep it going, or bring it back.

I hope McDonald’s does well with its breakfast all-day plan. But from what I keep reading, McDonald’s seems to be viewed this way: “their best days are behind them.”

And fixing that perspective, changing that perspective, may be the ultimate challenge for any aging organization.


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