Have you ever wondered how McDonald's does it? How is it that the Big Mac you crave is always the same in taste, appearance and quality whether that craving hits you in Arkansas, Alaska, Argentina or even Azerbaijan?

While the Big Mac's success is in large part due to its secret sauce, the real secret sauce of success from a logistics and supply chain perspective is the company's collaborative and innovative "System" that founder Ray Kroc set in motion nearly 60 years ago.

The notion of collaborative outsourcing and sharing value among all the elements of a national, and then global, enterprise was barely a blip on the business radar screen back then.

Kroc's principles—embodied in the structure of a "three-legged stool" and a philosophy that "none of us is as good as all of us"—revolutionized not only the fast food industry, but also established the cooperative template for modern supply chain operations and effective relationships between companies, their franchises and their consumers.

It's also an inspiring and revelatory story that's featured in a new book, Vested: How P&G, McDonald's and Microsoft are Redefining Winning in Business Relationships. The company adopted inherently vested principles and mindsets well before the Vested movement took shape. More on that later.

Three-Legged Stool

McDonald's success is found within the long-term transparent relationships based on a firm belief that everyone in the McDonald's "System" can and should win. The ingrained culture for long-term, win-win relationships with suppliers dates back to McDonald's inception, when Kroc established a precedent of trust and loyalty. Kroc believed that if the restaurant owner/operators and suppliers were successful, success would come to him as well.

To this day, Kroc's "System" philosophy is described as a three-legged stool. One of the legs is McDonald's employees, a second leg is the owner/operators that run the restaurants, and the third leg is McDonald's supplier partners. Of course this type of stool is only as strong as the three legs. If one leg fails, the entire structure is weakened or can fail. Company employees, franchise owner/operators and suppliers each support the weight of McDonald's equally. For one to prosper, each must prosper.

Kroc's System has stood the test of time because leaders within the System have continued to honor this "System First" approach where solutions always answer the question, "What's best for the System?"