4. Speed, Focus, and the First Mover Advantage

It was to be the most important meeting of the year for McDonald’s Corporation. More than 12,000 people who ran 30,000 restaurants in 119 countries were assembling in Orlando, Florida, to hear from the chief executive officer about the company’s new strategy.

James Cantalupo, 60, had been brought back from retirement to preside over a strategic repositioning of the company. McDonald’s, once an icon of American business, had struggled in recent years as customers complained about service and cleanliness, and health activists criticized the company’s food and marketing for contributing to the United States’ obesity problem.

Mr. Cantalupo took the helm at the end of 2002 and launched a strategy to change ...

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