Legacy Intact, Outgoing Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle On Why He’s Leaving

Domino’s Patrick Doyle leaves behind a large legacy as CEO of the pizza chain, having overseen its ascendance to number one in its market. He explains why he’s leaving the company and his insights into business and management with Chief Executive.

Doyle insists that not only is scale a leveraged asset, but also that technological change has made it more so. “The speed with which you’re sorting through winners and losers in categories has increased,” he says. “So scale matters more than in the past. You’re seeing small, nimble players doing very well, and the largest players are doing very well in many industries. But traditional competitors who don’t have scale or agility are struggling to compete in a lot of categories.”

And he doesn’t mean only pizza. Doyle also points to grocery retailing as a vertical where “a lot of medium-size players are really struggling. They don’t have the agility of an Aldi coming in, nor the scale of a Walmart or Kroger.”

Here are some other insights on business and management from and about the “retiring” CEO of Domino’s:

Respect the brand: Tom Monaghan is the colorful founder of Domino’s, and though he sold the company in 1998, and few current employees might recognize him, Doyle invited him back a while ago to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Domino’s Farms.

“People were thrilled by it,” says Tim McIntyre, executive vice president of communications, investor relations and legislative affairs for Domino’s and a key member of Doyle’s team. “And that’s because Patrick understands this company is about something bigger than himself.”

Be a people person: There are “broadly two styles of leaders,” Doyle says: “People who are really good at process and structure” and “people who really lead through people and relationships with people. I’m hard over in that second camp. I have to rely on people.

“So for me what makes it work is having the right group of people, making sure that they’re working together well and that relationships are good between them.”

Lead collaboratively: Doug Rothwell, president of Business Leaders for Michigan, liked Doyle as chairman of the group because he can effectively shepherd a gathering of about 80 fellow CEOs.

“These are also pretty colorful, successful people, so you can’t act like you’ve got all the answers and you have it figured out – because a lot of these people do too,” Rothwell says. “You need to lead in a very collaborative way with this group, and so Patrick is absolutely perfect in that role.”

Trust, then verify …: Doyle “leads with trust,” McIntyre says. “He’ll interview you and challenge you and vet you, but once you’re in, you’re in – until such time that you behave in a way which demonstrates you’re counter to the success of the team.”

…. But don’t suffer jerks: Toxic personalities on a management team “are so destructive to the ability to drive change in an organization” that Doyle gets rid of “jerks” with dispatch.

“I don’t care what their skill set is,” he says. “If they’re really disruptive with their peers, it slows everything down. So you have to get them out of the organization or they’ll grind change to a halt. The people who look for mistakes in other people causes others to start taking fewer risks.”

Go for first downs: One of Doyle’s favorite management analogies involves criticizing football coaches for punting on fourth down too often, because it’s safe, instead of going for a first down.

“You’ve got to be taking some level of risk in an organization,” he says. “You’ve got to be trying things, and if you can do something that will generate the highest expected outcome, even with risk, you’re going to generate growth – and make for a fun place to work.”

Plus, Doyle adds, he’s read that “going for it” on fourth down works out far better for football coaches than is commonly assumed.

Read more: New Domino’s CEO Allison Will Face Challenges in Post-Doyle Era


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