If you're a McDonald's Owner/Operator you'll need to suppress your gag reflex when you come across the recent Wall Street Journal interview with the McDonald's CEO. Reporters rarely get a one-on-one interview with a big company CEO so the result ends up sounding pretty soft ball.
The interview is behind the WSJ paywall, but Fox Business touched on some high points including a video interview with former McDonald's exec Ed Rensi.
The pull quote in the interview is when McCEO says, "The CEO does set the culture and others are going to pick up on what you choose to focus on".
That may be what his B-school professors told him but that's just not true in a franchise system. With franchisees involved the culture ends up being a mix of how the franchisees perform and behave with some small input from corporate management.
The founders of a franchise system certainly determine the culture in the early years but as time goes by and the founders fade away the franchisees have more and more influence on the system's culture. CEOs come and go, and they have little to do with the culture. Especially if they have no system history and are focused on reinventing the brand.