LA 02 – McDonald’s SCAMPER

The task was to use the Internet to research the history of the fast food chain McDonald’s and explain which parts of the SCAMPER model are evident in its development onto its current success.
I searched the Internet and found the history of McDonalds on their websites, and their timeline told briefly what kind of changes they had done along the road to success. I’ve used this timeline, some other websites and my own experiences to help understanding which major changes have been critical to McDonalds enormous success by using the SCAMPER-model.


SCAMPER technique

«Creative thinking and problem-solving are essential parts of the design process to turn ideas into innovation and break the barriers against creativity. One of the successful methods used in creative thinking is the SCAMPER technique. While there are different creative thinking and problem-solving techniques such as reversed brainstormingHurson’s thinking model, the six hats of critical thinking and Lego Serious Play, SCAMPER is considered one of the easiest and most direct methods. The SCAMPER technique is based very simply on the idea that what is new is actually a modification of existing old things around us.

“There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.”
– Ambrose Bierce

How to use the SCAMPER technique

SCAMPER was first introduced by Bob Eberle to address targeted questions that help solve problems or ignite creativity during brainstorming meetings. The name SCAMPER is acronym for seven techniques; (S) substitute, (C) combine, (A) adapt, (M) modify, (P) put to another use, (E) eliminate and (R) reverse. These keywords represent the necessary questions addressed during the creative thinking meeting.»

From the webpage


Founder and chairman of McDonald's Corporation, Ray Kroc, stands outside one of his franchises.Source-Getty Images
Founder and chairman of McDonald’s Corporation, Ray Kroc, stands outside one of his franchises.

McDonalds history

The McDonald brothers Dick and Mack opens their first restaurant in 1940, a typical Bar-B-Q drive-in featuring a large menu and car hop service (waiters serving the food at drive-ins). The establishment of McDonalds had its timing on their side; the soldiers came back home from the World War II, to start and raise families resulting in a rapid population growth. McDonalds tuned the business to become more and more attractive for the teenagers and youngsters and by time more family friendly. Ever since the start, McDonalds has gone through lots of changes to maintain continuously growth to become the huge, successful Corporation we know today.



In 1948, when the brothers opened their new restaurant, they had replaced glass and porcelain with paper and plastic to avoid dishwashing. In 1949 they replaced potato chips with French Fries.


In 1956, Fred Turner, future McDonald’s Chairman is hired to work as a counter man for the Des Plaines McDonald’s. He would soon become the head of McDonald’s Operations defining the quality, service and cleanliness that continue to this day. They combined their knowledge and experience to become stronger.


In 1954 earlier multimixer salesman Ray Kroc became the nationwide franchising agent for McDonalds after visiting the McDonalds brothers. One year later, he had adapted the brothers simple merchandising methods, founded McDonald’s System Inc. and created a new concept – fast food. He opened his first McDonalds in Des Plaines, Illinois, in 1955, and in 1961, he bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name and operating system.

Customers park outside one of the first McDonald's outlets in Des Plaines Illinois in 1955.Source-Alamy
Customers park outside one of the first McDonald’s outlets in Des Plaines Illinois in 1955.

Over the years, McDonalds has continuously adapted into their markets.

In 1965 The Filet-O-Fish sandwich was the first item added to the national menu. Created by Lou Groen, McDonald’s Cincinnati franchisee to help build volume in the predominately Roman Catholic community in which his store was located. He had adapted to the market.

In 2003 the society is focusing a lot on health and McDonald’s first global ad campaign, “i’m lovin’ it” is launched in Munich, Germany on September 2.

I’ve been visiting McDonalds all over the world (Bali, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Norway, France, Canada etc) and I know that they to a certain extend customizes the restaurants to its present nation and culture; the menu and exterior is locally adapted.



Ronald McDonald surfing at Kuta
Ronald McDonald surfing utside a restaurant at Kuta, Bali.

It’s a common know strategy to modify a product to increase income, eg. did a toothpaste producer make the hole on the tube slightly larger, so the customers would use more toothpaste and thus sell more. So, did the McDonalds brothers. As they reopened their restaurant in 1948, the burgers were slightly smaller – making it possible to push the price from 25 down to 15 cents per burger.

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One of the early challenges was that the franchises wanted to extend the original menu. The chain solved this by regularly adding new items to the menu. In 1968, The Big Mac, developed by Owner/Operator Jim Delligatti of Pittsburgh, is added to the national menu. In 1973, The Quarter Pounder and the Quarter Pounder with Cheese are added to the menu. In 1975 The Egg McMuffin, created by Owner/Operator Herb Peterson of Santa Barbara, California is added to the national menu. In 1983 Chicken McNuggets are introduced into all domestic U.S. restaurants.


In 1974, The first Ronald McDonald House opens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From the website of Ronald McDonald House of Charities:

Fred Hill, a player for the Philadelphia Eagles, had a daughter suffering from leukaemia, which prompted the team to raise in excess of $100,000 dollars to support the hospital. This was met with much gratitude from Dr Evans and her team but also with a request for another $32,000 to fund a house in which the families of the children in the hospital could get proper rest, away from the ward. 

In turn this request was met by Ed Rensi, an area manager for McDonald’s. The company was using the Eagles’ players as part of an advertising campaign and offered to donate the proceeds from their ‘shamrock shake’ to the cause. In return Ed asked that the house be known as the Ronald McDonald House. So it was, that on 15 October 1974, the first Ronald McDonald House opened its doors. In the intervening years Ronald McDonald House Charities has spread across the world, forming new and independent branches in over 50 regions and countries.

In the UK, Ronald McDonald House Charities was established as an independent charity in 1989. We thank all of our supporters, both big and small, who have helped us to keep families together in the 29 years since.

McDonald brothers San Bernardino McDonald_s restaurant 1948-1955. It was in this restaurant that Dick and Mac McDonald perfected their Speedee Service System featuring a limited menu i
McDonald brothers San Bernardino McDonald’s restaurant 1948-1955. It was in this restaurant that Dick and Mac McDonald perfected their Speedee Service System featuring a limited menu including fifteen cent hamburgers, shakes and fries.

In 1948, after three months of alterations, the McDonald brothers introduce a self-service, drive-in restaurant. The menu was reduced to nine items (hamburger, cheeseburger, soft drinks, milk, coffee, potato chips and a slice of pie) and the need for waiters was gone. These are elements tuned for effectiveness and minimizing the operating costs.


As the McDonalds opened their new restaurant in 1948, the food is made in advance, ready packed to be served to increase the effectiveness. The fast food concept also makes their customers pay for the food before they eat it. It’s reversed from the traditional restaurant concept where you’ll eat first and pay afterwards.

Back in 1955 Kroc opened his first McDonalds restaurant and he wanted to differentiate his establishments from the competitors. Kroc rearranged the architecture and changed the original red-and-white, box-shaped prototype into the Golden Arches. In the 1070’s he also added the drive-throughs.


McDonalds logo history
McDonalds logo history



SCAMPER technique:

McDonalds history:

McDonalds timeline:

McDonalds and SCAMPER:

Ronald McDonald House:

Price of the first mcdonald’s burger (pictures of old restaurants, menus etc):

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