Late last night fast-food giant McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) announced the next steps for its management team: Vice Chairman Jim Skinner will become CEO and a board member, effective immediately, while McDonald's USA CEO Mike Roberts will become president, CEO, and a board member himself. Roberts will report to Skinner; together, they'll replace Charlie Bell, who's stepping down to fight his cancer full-time.

The appointments are news, but the fact that they're happening really isn't. We'd known of Bell's cancer for some time; only the succession plan had yet to be announced by Chairman Andrew McKenna. (It's been a sadly eventful year in McDonald's executive chambers: Bell himself took the top job earlier this year after Jim Cantalupo, widely credited with reenergizing the massive company, died unexpectedly.)

McDonald's investors, at least, can rest assured that their company is more than equipped to handle change swiftly -- though it has certainly dealt with more change, of a certain type, in 2004 than it would have liked. That, too, isn't really news. What's perhaps more notable, if not entirely surprising, is that the board has now turned several times to its own people to fill its highest-available vacancies: Both Roberts and Skinner have substantial company experience.

It's easy to understand why McDonald's hasn't opened up its talent search too far and wide: It's performing. It's performing well operationally and on the back of strong branding marketing that's got 'em coming through doors at impressive rates. This, meanwhile, has led to powerful financial performance. Investors, meanwhile, have been rewarded for their ownership.

In short, the company is lovin' it -- and its top people have earned the right to run the ship, given its performance in a constantly challenging marketplace.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own McDonald's, but he did eat there recently.