Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle Will Have A Smooth Succession

Patrick Doyle’s announcement of his plan to retire from Domino’s stunned the markets. Primarily, they didn’t see it coming. Yet CEO succession has been well planned by the board and the transition to new-CEO-in-waiting Richard “Ritch” Allison is expected to be smooth.

It’s a credit to Doyle as well as to Domino’s board that he won’t need to prolong his transition once he has fulfilled his close-to-the-vest plan of turning around the lagging performer, achieving lofty goals for the company and then making an exit, all within a decade.

Doyle leaves the CEO job on June 30 with Domino’s the No. 1 player in the global pizza industry and at least 26 consecutive quarters of U.S. same-store sales growth and at least 95 quarters in a row of international growth. At that point, he’ll have taken Domino’s to the pinnacle in just eight years.

While complimenting Doyle’s accomplishments in leading the company’s turnaround and subsequent rise, Chairman David Brandon also acknowledged the importance of the succession aspect of his legacy.

“Domino’s board has been very thorough and very thoughtful about doyle’s succession, and it should always be part of the conversation at any company, public or private.”

“He developed an outstanding leadership team, which has allowed the board to select a successor from that team,” said Brandon, who hand-picked Doyle to succeed him as CEO in 2010. Brandon now is CEO of struggling Toys ‘R Us.

As president of Domino’s International, Allison grew Domino’s’ sales abroad as well as grew the size of its footprint by more than 4,500 stores in more than 85 markets in six years, cutting his teeth in the same global arena where Doyle did.

Domino’s also was able to promote Russell Weiner, who currently is president of Domino’s USA, to the newly created role of chief operating officer of Domino’s and president of the Americas. Both appointments are effective July 1.

Despite Brandon’s compliment, Doyle insisted to Corporate Board Member that “succession planning is a board process, not a CEO process, and ultimately the board is going to drive that and how you’re going to go through that process.” He said Domino’s board “has been very thorough and very thoughtful about his, and it should always be part of the conversation at any company, public or private.

“In my case, we started talking about [succession] a year after I started the job. That’s a persistent and ongoing conversation.”

Yet Doyle’s own description of his management philosophy bespeaks why he might have been able to build a solid support team. Doyle described his leadership style as people- and relationship-focused. “I have to rely on people,” he said. “So for me what makes it work is having the right group of people, making sure they’re working together well and that relationships are good between them.”

Doyle also has been quick to weed out toxic personalities, whom he labels “jerks,” on his management team. “They are so destructive to the ability to drive change in an organization,” he said. “I don’t care what their skill set is. 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 cause others to start taking fewer risks.”