Use Domino's Genius Strategy to Get Your Team on the Same Page Here's what all entrepreneurs can learn from a pizza chain.
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In 2008, Domino's Pizza had a problem: Its pizza sucked. A snapshot of customer feedback from the time was pretty damning:
Domino's crust tastes like cardboard.
The sauce tastes like ketchup.
This is an imitation of pizza.
Yikes. For a company whose raison d'etre was pizza, this was not good news.
It would have been easy for Domino's to go the way of so many lackluster businesses before it, quietly folding and becoming nothing more than a bullet point on a listicle of '90s relics.
But that's not what happened. Led by then-CEO Patrick Doyle, Domino's underwent one of the most dramatic turnarounds in corporate history. First, the company publicly acknowledged customer dissatisfaction with its "Oh Yes We Did" campaign, confronting criticism head-on and revamping its recipe for the first time in 49 years.
"You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process to make a better pizza," Doyle said in a video that ended up going viral. "We did the latter."
But perhaps even more importantly, Domino's invested in a digital strategy that catered to customers who order online — a move that made the company stand out among competitors. Armed with better-tasting food and an ordering system that to this day uses technology to its advantage, Domino's is once again a key player in the delivery pizzascape.
To lead a successful company, there will be times when you need to pivot. But even Doyle couldn't pivot alone: He needed to get the rest of the company on board and convince them to pivot with him.
Change is necessary. Even so, research shows that 70% of change initiatives fall short of their intended outcomes due to a lack of buy-in from employees.
Change — no matter how badly it's needed — can often induce fear. In times of transformation, team members need to be able to trust you and your vision.
"People aren't going to consider anything until they are convinced there is a problem that truly needs to be addressed," Harvard Business School professor John Kotter tells Forbes.
To get people on board, they need to understand the "why." Share your thought process and clearly explain how the changes you're implementing fit into the company's overarching goals. The purpose of my company, Jotform, is ostensibly to build easy-to-use webforms. But at our core, what we're really doing is helping people be more productive. Whenever we implement changes, I try to make sure my teams can see the connection between the shift in direction and how it relates to our wider mission.
It's also helpful to be upfront about any challenges you foresee, which can encourage others to offer their input. As the boss, you have a clearer picture of what's ahead than anyone else. Allow your team to see what you see, which will not only get everyone on the same page but also foster a sense of trust.
Don't dictate, collaborate
Even though you're ultimately in charge, getting input from team members has myriad benefits. First, having multiple eyes on a project reduces the risk of mistakes and oversights. It also guards against scheduling conflicts and other process dependencies that might not be on your radar.
But perhaps most importantly, actively soliciting the help of others will make them more invested in the outcome and more willing to speak up if they see something that isn't working. You want to foster a collaborative culture, not a dictatorial one.
In an interview with The Future of Work author Jacob Morgan, current Domino's CEO Richard Allison explains that the company's ethos around change means ensuring that all 15,000 employees and 300,000 franchise employees are moving in a common direction towards goals that are understood by all.
"Every day, those people wake up and make choices all day long about how they're going to spend their time," Allison says. "Each day, I only interact with a small handful of them directly. I think part of leadership is trying to make sure that every day, even when you can't personally be there to guide it, people are committed and passionate about where we're trying to go, as a company."
Be prepared, however, for opinions to differ, and understand that this isn't a bad thing. According to Kotter, discord can lead to growth. "If people have no opinions, no objections and no emotions, it usually means they don't care. And you'll be hard-pressed getting their help when you have to actually implement your idea," he says. Conflict gets people's attention. Once you have that, it's possible to build something together.
Lead by example
If you want others to take the plunge into new territory, it's your job as a leader to show them the way. After all, why should you expect others to charge ahead into something new and scary if you're not willing to do it yourself?
Your teams are looking to you to act decisively amid uncertainty. But change can be hard even if you're the one putting the wheels in motion. To make sure you're processing change in a healthy way, leaders need to master what's called "being before doing." Writing for Harvard Business Review, Deborah Rowland, Nicole Brauckmann and Michael Thorley describe this as being aware of and regulating one's own mental and emotional reactions to experiences:
"When we intentionally bring our attention to the present moment — for example, by focusing on our breathing — we increase our awareness of all that is going on in and around us without immediate judgment. This preserves our thinking and decision-making abilities, stops our brains from reacting impulsively, and opens the opportunity to assess different options."
The paradox of change is that we often feel resistance to it, even when we know that it's necessary. Your job as a leader is to help your team understand your thought processes, ensure their active participation and show them that you're all in it together.