McDonald's is the definite example of a powerful and successful organizational culture. If you walk into any one of the more than 10,000 McDonald's restaurants, you'll see a familiar layout, and essentially common menu, and one of the most efficient organizations in the world. It's not by chance that a McDonald's meal tastes pretty much the same everywhere.

No small part of McDonald's success is due to its strong culture. Every McDonald's employee knows the company's basic operating principles. Quality, service, cleanliness. Don't compromise. Use the best ingredients.

Where did McDonald's culture come from? Its founder, Ray Kroc. Though the died in 1984, his presence is a great today as it was during his lifetime. His office at corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, is preserved as a museum, his reading glasses untouched in their leather case on the desk. In a headquarters exhibit called "Talk to Ray", a visitor can phone up Ray on a video screen and with a keyboard ask him questions. More than an hour-and-a-half of videotape has been accumulated from talk shops and other sources that allow visitors and employees to hear Kroc espouse his philosophy of what McDonald's is about.

Today's executives at McDonald's cite Mr. Kroc so often that he still seems to be in charge. His photo smile down on every desk. When executives are faced with tough decision, they typically ask themselves, "What would Ray do?" And because these executives have been so fully indoctrinated in Kroc's philosophy, they usually arrive at answers consistent with decision made when Kroc headed the company. This explains, to a large degree, why McDonald's has become a symbol of stability and consistency.