[FOUNTAIN]Keep it simple, stupid!

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[FOUNTAIN]Keep it simple, stupid!

"Keep it simple, stupid!" That short sentence embodied the initial strategy of the multinational fast food restaurant chain McDonald's. This came to be known by many as the acronym KISS.

Corporate history states that McDonald's was established by Ray Kroc in 1955. But the symbolic golden-arched M and the company's key "original fast food" strategy all originated from the brothers Morris and Richard McDonald. The brothers from New Hampshire moved to California with the intention of making movies, but after failing they decided in the year 1940 to open a drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino.

The strategy they chose to make high profits with a small staff and low costs was the KISS principle. The McDonald brothers simplified their menu, focusing on hamburgers and French fries, and to speed up service while satisfying sanitary requirements they used disposable utensils and packaging. The brothers' strategy, which focused on providing a satisfying, fast and convenient meal, attracted the fast-growing California middle class.

Ray Kroc, a kitchenware salesman, joined the brothers in 1954, and after a year purchased the ownership rights to the trade name and golden arches for $2.7 million.

This year McDonald's, which after Mr. Kroc's acquisition grew into a global giant with more than 30,000 restaurants in 121 countries worldwide, is struggling. Mad cow disease and anti-American protests have hurt sales and the firm's stock value significantly. Last week, CEO Jack Greenberg announced his resignation before his term expired. The troubles McDonald's is facing probably stem from the partial loss of its "simple and honest" philosophy.

The KISS principle is still widely used in management and even on the Internet and in cultural fields. It was also mentioned in the CNN talk show host Larry King's book, "How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere." Mr. King writes in his book, "World class leaders do not include cliches, complicated sentences or technical terms in their speeches," and adds, "The common principle they follow is KISS."

The KISS principle is something that not only McDonald's but also the presidential candidates, who have a lot at stake in their speeches to the public, should once again think about.

The writer is head of the Forbes Korea team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Sohn Byoung-soo

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