Can you make a better burger than McDonalds?

The biggest threat to McDonald’s lies within – and that is us as a company becoming complacent. There are a lot of companies that get fat, dumb and happy and take their eye off the ball and forget about serving customers.”
Charlie Bell
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How many of you could make a better burger than McDonalds? Chances are that almost 100% of you will answer that question with a yes and I wouldn’t begin to argue.

Why is it then, that McDonalds had global revenues of around US$28 billion in 2013 and your revenues from burger sales were somewhat less than that (I assume)?

If you look at the value pyramid below, McDonalds would be right at the rarefied peak of the pyramid for many of the metrics (KPIs) you could assign to the vertical “value-add” axis (eg people employed, meals provided, number of stores, revenues, etc). Conversely, you are likely to be down near the bottom of the pyramid, being one of millions/billions who can make a better burger, but aren’t delivering as much “value” to the food industry.

This disparity is a simple one to explain. While you may be technically more proficient (eg at making burgers), you haven’t developed the systems in sales, marketing, distribution, logistics, franchising models, etc that make you one of the best-known brands in the world.

The same is true in the OSS industry in my opinion. Our industry is full of brilliant technical minds. US Congress has stated that the United States graduates roughly 70,000 undergraduate engineers annually, whereas China graduates 600,000 and India 350,000. Whilst they’re not all destined for ICT engineering, it’s still a lot of engineers coming into the base of our value pyramid every year. Like me, I’m sure you don’t want to reside at the commoditised base of the pyramid.

Conversely, relatively few OSS “experts” ever become the OSS lynchpins / tripods that add huge value to their organisations and the industry. So rather than becoming even more technically proficient (ie more programming languages, protocols, frameworks, etc), I believe our technical gurus actually need to spend more time diversifying their value to a broader audience. This diversification comes through enhancing their customer relationships, business acumen, leadership, promotional / persuasion skills, innovation, entrepreneurship and more.

Being the first day of 2015, today is a day when many people set their new year’s resolutions. That’s not my thing, but it is my objective to keep climbing the pyramid, providing more value to more readers and customers in 2015. Are you joining me on the climb this year?

Wishing you all a passionate, healthy, prosperous and value-added 2015!

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