How to apply a purpose-driven growth strategy
Talk about a transformation. De Nederlandse Staatsmijnen started out in 1902 mining coal. But along the way, the company stopped using its Dutch name, replaced it with the English translation Dutch State Mines and switched from mining to the creation of science-based solutions in health, nutrition and sustainable living. Since then, even its abbreviated name DSM has taken on a more relevant meaning for its people – Do Something Meaningful.
Not only has DSM abandoned its traditional mining operations to pursue entirely new markets; the company is balancing profitable growth with playing a positive role in the world. It believes that good financial results can – and should – go hand in hand with a purpose.
Passionate about causes
Traditionally, companies have been focused on either driving profit or doing good. Businesses targeting both have been rare. This is changing, as customers become more passionate about causes and gravitate to brands that support them. That’s the foundation of purpose-driven business strategy - the brand has an impact. Purpose-driven businesses strive not only to drive profits, but also to add positive value to the world and society.
In this context, DSM sees millennials, who will soon make up most of the world’s consumers, as people selecting products and solutions from companies with purpose-orientated approaches. These are people who want to feel part of something bigger and make a difference; they’re passionate about their causes and attracted to brands that share their passion. DSM’s impact-branding strategy “Growth & Value: Purpose-led, Performance-driven” responds to that battle cry.
The strategy seeks to bring together its employees and customers and society at large in a way that benefits everyone. It’s an ultimate sense of purpose, DSM argues, that helps the company attract and engage highly motivated, deeply dedicated employees. And by empowering them with a strong sense of purpose, it believes it can best unleash their creativity and drive. Management gurus agree that once people have a clear purpose and incorporate that purpose in their daily work, they become unstoppable. Productivity rockets, innovation flourishes, the bottom-line results follow.
Not only does DSM’s people-led, purpose-driven approach resonate with customers; they see in the company a partner with shared values and the same drive for sustainable solutions, making collaboration all that much easier. The values create a common mission that gives the business something critical – a defining factor.
The company is enabling its scientists and engineers to make an impact, which in turn allows its customers to make an impact. The global science-based enterprise with deep expertise is developing solutions to address several of the world biggest challenges, such as malnutrition and climate change. Multiple times, Fortune magazine has included DSM in its “Change the World” ranking of enterprises that have made a measurable impact on these challenges. Such recognition further strengthens the message that the company strives to instill in all its stakeholders: “We are a company that is doing well by doing good.”