Innovating pizza

Helping America's 3rd largest person pizza chain discover new opportunities, experience radical efficiency, and develop sustained results.


When you think of pizza, you picture family dinners, sporting events, and birthday parties. But have you ever stopped to consider the chain of events from ordering your double anchovies and olives to it arriving on your doorstep?

That’s exactly what the General Managers who power Papa John’s 5,000+ restaurants dwell on. Their days are long, stressful, and chaotic, especially when it comes to staffing. During more days than not, a GM’s restaurant, unexpectedly, won’t have the headcount it needs to run. That means the GM is pulled away from their core responsibilities and the restaurant suffers.

Papa John's Awards
A shifting environment of people and technology threatens Papa John’s 34-year legacy.

In need of help at both ends

Papa John’s was well aware of this growing problem they had within their restaurants. They also recognized their traditional methods for solving business challenges needed change.

Facing new competition and applications of technology, their leadership team started looking for better tools to consistently generate new innovations.

They had spent the past year experimenting with various innovation frameworks, like design thinking and design sprints. Along that journey, their team members started following our work, stories, and advice.

Design Sprint Kick Off
After watching & learning from our product design methods, Papa John's brings us in to facilitate, consult, and train.

When the opportunity presented itself, they wasted no time bringing us. The value in the engagement would be two-fold: identify viable solutions to their top business challenges through hands-on product strategy, and then train them to integrate our methods.

Introducing speed

Like any other $1.8B, 20,000 person international organization, there’s never just 1 thing to work on. And even when you decide to work on 1 thing, you need 10 other people who are busy on 20 other things. Feeling stuck is typical.

One of the major draws to the process we use is the speed at which we move. Speed provides us freedom to be wrong, so that we can quickly learn, shift, and be more right.

Within the course of a single business day, we helped a cross-functional team of 14 leaders within Papa John’s discover, prioritize, and map out their single most important business opportunity — improving the productivity and output of GMs by providing them tools to manage their delivery staff.

Papa John's Problem Framing
Our teams work together during problem framing to prioritize and align on the most impactful opportunities.

From prioritized problem to validated prototype

In order to keep momentum flying forward, within days of identifying their driver staffing opportunity, we organized our upgraded version of Google’s design sprint framework.

Within 4 days we ideated 11 competing solutions, turned the most compelling solution into a hi-fidelity prototype, and tested it on actual GMs.

Design Sprint Solution Voting
During our design sprint we selected the most exciting solution ideas to prototype and test.

Measurable results

With the help of our expert product strategy and process guidance, the Papa John’s team received feedback and results with their prototype that typically doesn’t occur until 3 or 4 cycles of prototyping. 1 GM reacted by saying, “Man, this is amazing! Please tell me you’re gonna make this available to us!

The rapid success of our Product Sprint Program saved Papa John’s tens of thousands of dollars and weeks of time.

Papa John's Design Sprint User Testing
Design Sprint user testing reveals important and exciting insights within 3 days.
Customer reactions
Rob Draper
Rob Draper
Head of UX, Product Design @ Papa John's
"The program with New Haircut not only aligned leaders from several departments, but left us inspired by the insights and innovative ideas we were able to create and test."
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