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Leadership & Strategy


We encouraged staff to innovate by giving them the freedom to fail

Beer Hawk CEO Mark Roberts encourages staff to innovate
Mark Roberts encourages staff to experiment and make mistakes

Name: Beer Hawk
Location: West Yorkshire
Employees: 80
Founded in: 2012
Tip: “Take an action-first approach. If you’ve got an idea, make it happen.”

The problem

One of Beer Hawk’s values is We get on with it. It’s based on CEO Mark Roberts’ belief that the person closest to a decision should be the one to make it happen. Beer Hawk encouraged staff to spend time testing their ideas rather than creating PowerPoint presentations and pitching them. However, as the business grew, it became harder for staff to innovate and take risks in the business.

The solution

Mark acknowledged that some things would have to change with growth.

“It was a balance,” he said. “For example, though we put together a proper leadership structure for the first time and allowed PowerPoint presentations, we also introduced ‘Dorker of the Week’, where we celebrate the biggest failure of the week. Someone even gets a trophy. Failure is important – if the team aren’t making enough mistakes, they aren’t taking enough risks.” 

Beer Hawk also rewards initiatives that have worked with Corker of the Quarter – an award that recognises two or three people from different parts of the business and gives them an extra day of holiday and £50 to spend on their day off. Beer Hawk recently introduced money-can’t-buy beer experiences for top performers, with recent events including Wimbledon and Munich’s Oktoberfest.

The results

In seven years, the company has grown to 80 employees and £20m turnover. Mark believes their determination to stick to their values has encouraged staff to innovate, take risks and test ideas. “We’re still focused on trying to stop any natural bureaucracy or anything that would slow us down,” he said.

The company opened two Beer Hawk bars in London in 2019 – an idea originally suggested by one of their employees. The firm is now seeing a massive increase in customer lifetime value and plans to open two more bars in the next six months.

“The Dorker Award is our way of talking about failure. If we didn’t do things like that, how would people know it’s okay to try something and get it wrong?” 

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