Skip to main content

E71 | Dominic Monkhouse – Scaling Up and Creating Culture

Dominic Monkhouse – Scaling Up and Creating Culture

Today we are turning the spotlight on… Dominic Monkhouse himself. Hearing how he used creating culture as his secret weapon in scaling up 2 UK tech firms.

A couple of months ago Dominic interviewed Carla and Imogen from FizzPopBANG – The Culture Consultancy on The Melting Pot and in turn, they kindly invited Dom to be a guest on their PopCAST

This episode is that episode. 

Now the interviewer has become the interviewee and it’s about time – Dominic rarely talks about his background on the podcasts, focusing instead on the achievements and the expertise of the guests who feature on The Melting Pot podcast. So it’s a refreshing change to get a behind the scenes look at how Dom came to be fronting The Melting Pot podcast, and what his career journey to date has been like. 

In essence, Dom is a certified Scaling Up Coach with effective tools and techniques to help propel companies forward. He took Rackspace to £30 million in five years, and then at Peer 1, he took the business from nothing to £30 million in five years, and globally C$19 million to C$200 million. Neither of these achievements would have been possible without creating cultures that unlocked the 40% discretionary effort in the teams.

He works with tech businesses helping them scale up. These are businesses that typically have somewhere between £10 and £100 million. They have an ambitious CEO who wants to scale but has sailed into choppy waters.

I guess nobody rings me if everything’s going completely smoothly, so for one reason or another, the wheels are starting to wobble or something’s not quite right. And they get in touch and if there’s some chemistry then I get to help.

Dominic Monkhouse

Dom’s secret to scaling up? It’s always about the people and always about the culture. 

We hope you find this podcast insightful, and that you enjoy listening to it as much as Dom did making it. 

On today’s podcast:

  • The reason Dom became a business coach
  • The biggest influence on his career
  • Dom’s coaching programme 
  • Culture and leadership
  • How to work without managers
  • Rhythms, not processes
  • The importance of accountability for employees
  • Who shapes culture?


Scaling Up with Dominic Monkhouse

What do you know about the host of The Melting Pot? His name? Dominic Monkhouse. That the podcast is an amalgamation of everything he’s learned during his time in business? 

But where did he come from? How has he garnered all the insights that he has? And what does he look for in a business in order to help them scale up? What are the biggest mistakes he sees companies make time and again? And who shapes an organisation’s culture?

In this week’s episode, the interviewer becomes the interviewee and he lifts the lid on how he helps businesses scale up.

In his own words, Dom coaches and challenges ambitious, but humble, CEOs. 

The CEO has to be ambitious, but also humble. They’ve definitely got drive and steel, but they know they don’t know everything. They’re probably the type of people already reading a dozen books a year or at least half a dozen books a year. They’re lifelong learners. They know they don’t know everything and so that’s why they go looking for somebody to help.

Dominic Monkhouse

And one of the ways that Dom determines how ambitious a CEO is, is by the growth of their business. You’ve got to be growing 20% a year for three years, back to back, to be classed as a scale-up. 

So in coaching, Dom looks for people who are not only growing their business fast but who have people at the heart of their company. Where creating cultures that are compelling for A-players to join and stay is key.

You can run a successful business and make money and not give a shit about your people. I’m sure you can, I just don’t care to help you be more successful.

Dominic Monkhouse

The Most Common Mistake

During the course of helping businesses scale, Dominic comes across organisations making the same mistakes repeatedly as they start to scale. 

I would say that they start to think that they have to be more grown-up. And then they start to say, ‘Well, what does grown-up mean?’

Dominic Monkhouse

For some companies, they think they need to implement an annual appraisal scheme. For others they have their successes come from being a small team, and now they want to create functions like sales and marketing and finance. But once they’ve created those functions they start to disagree about things, and they begin to lose the clarity that they once had. 

They can start to try and cherry pick things that they’ve seen in big companies they’ve been in, rather than think, is there a better way to do it? And also, there’s just a lack of clarity around what they’re trying to do and what the most important things are to do, when and who’s going to be accountable.

Dominic Monkhouse

And if that breaks down at the executive team level, then it’s impossible for it to exist anywhere else.

I say very clearly to CEOs and their teams, ‘your company will never be better than this team. And that this team is your number one team.’ So if you’re the sales director, sales is not your number one priority. The executive team is your number one priority.

Dominic Monkhouse

Who In A Company Creates Culture?

One of the markers Dom uses to determine a great company culture is as simple as going into the business and seeing what’s broken. 

If you go into a conference room and there’s a broken chair or dried up whiteboard markers, you just know that people tolerate that sort of behaviour. They’ve grown used to it. Whereas in a great business nobody would tolerate that – somebody would throw the markers in the bin and just order some more. It wouldn’t be someone’s job to get that stuff sorted, it would just happen. 

Quite often I say to people, on a scale of one to 10, how do you rate yourself? And they say, ‘ordinary, seven or eight or something?’ What they don’t realise is that nine and 10 isn’t 10% better. It’s 100%. It’s 100 times better or 1000 times better. It’s 100 or 1000 little actions done by every employee in the organisation.

Dominic Monkhouse

The thing is, that extra effort that people aren’t putting in isn’t because they don’t want to, it’s because they’ve never worked in a business that ran that way. And if you’ve never worked in a business that ran like that, you’ve just worked in a business that chugged along and was a bit mediocre, then your expectation is different. You don’t appreciate a good company culture.

    Fantastic! Give us your details and we'll call you back

      Enquiry | Scaling Up Master Business Course