That’s right, McDonald’s has a grammatical error in its Mission Statement! I discovered this while researching mission statements and vision statements for my upcoming book, Fire Your Job, Hire Yourself. I couldn’t believe my own eyes and I had to read and re-read it several times to convince myself that I wasn’t just missing some obscure English language rule. If I am indeed missing some obscure rule, I’m guessing that the vast majority of McDonald’s targeted customers are probably in the same boat.
When you’re a MAJOR, world-wide company, someone needs to take responsibility for double checking the result of your strategic planning meeting! Ronald McDonald, The Hamburglar, Grimace, and Mayor McCheese should have hired an English teacher to do a final review. Can you find the error?
“McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers’ experience.”
You can still find this mission statement on their corporate website (unless they’ve finally fixed it since this post was written).
So what lesson can we learn from this? I’m almost afraid to say it because I’m not the best example of clean writing in all situations. In fact, I’m guessing there are even some mistakes in this post because I’m in a hurry to write it so I can get back to a project for a client. I think the bottom line is to double-check your work, right? Like I said, I’m preaching to the choir if not to my own mirror.
The chapters for my book are pretty clean once they leave the editing cycles, but I’ve shared unedited sections of the book before and later realized they had typos. When it comes to blog posts like this, or Facebook updates, my writing is much more “human” and buggy than it should be. I know basic grammar, even some advanced grammar, but I like to write less formally and I have the nasty habit of not double checking my work. I like to blame some of this on the combination of my smartphone and my eyesight. My eyesight is a problem because I can’t see what I write very well on my phone, so I often find myself squinting and skimming. I blame my smartphone because it’s the platform I use the most for informal posts, comments, and texts. I love my Windows smartphone. It is better at spelling suggestions than Apple’s iPhone. The problem is me. I tend to get lazy and resort to drawing out the words on the keyboard, which is very fast, but causes frequent phone guessing because of my fat finger. As I’m flying along, I often don’t go back and re-read what I wrote because it’s a pain to scroll and to see it anyway. This can result in some unintentional words in my sentences. Sometimes, these words can completely change the meaning of the sentence.
For example, I am in the process of selling a car. I was texting a buyer on Friday, a few hours before he was to come over with cash to buy it at an agreed-upon price. California law requires that I get a smog check within 90 days of selling it and I had not. I didn’t know this rule until I read it that morning on the DMV website. The car was up to date with smog certification but selling the vehicle requires that I perform one for the buyer. Oh dang. The guy was coming to buy it and I didn’t have time to get the smog check without postponing his visit. Instead of texting him, “It has current registration and smog but it hasn’t had a smog in the last 90 days,” my finger swipe caused the phone to spell the second word wrong. The text went out as, “It had current registration and smog but it hasn’t had a smog in the last 90 days.” That caused a big misunderstanding by the buyer and his next reply was, “I’m just gonna cancel.” He thought I was trying to sell him a car that wasn’t registered or smogged! The other big mistake my phone likes to make is switching “your” and “you’re” which makes me look uneducated even though I completely understand the difference and can spot it a mile away…when I can visually see it. In fact, when I first posted about this mistake in Facebook, a friend came back and pointed out that I (my phone) typed your when it should have typed you’re. Phone or not, I obviously didn’t re-read it before pressing Post.
So why don’t I re-read what I type? Laziness? In a hurry? I certainly have room for growth in this area. While I will continue to work on my shortcomings, I certainly think it’s okay to point out that McDonald’s blew it. They are way too big of a worldwide company to get away with such a mistake. Did it really happen in the board room? That would be embarrassing, horrible, and obviously something they’ll never admit. Did it happen when the secretary copied it into the minutes? Didn’t the executive who signed off on it re-read it? Did the website guy get it wrong when he updated the website? How about the person who approves the updates before they are applied?–most big companies have a review cycle.
How long will it take for them to realize the mistake? Let’s find out. This article was written on Feb 22, 2015, but I see writers posting that same mission statement AT LEAST as far back as 2012 (most didn’t catch the mistake but I see that a few did). That means McDonald’s doesn’t notice, doesn’t care, or doesn’t go by the same grammatical rules that the rest of us were taught in school. What frustrates me the most is that McDonald’s doesn’t seem to review their mission statement regularly, which is a best practice for leading corporations. Many of the best companies that I know do this annually during strategic planning sessions.