Götz Werner – Chairman dm Drugstore- Success the Human Way

Götz Werner – Chairman dm Drugstore- Success the Human Way


Entrepreneursneed to see the forest for the trees. If a company’s sole raison d’être is making society better, it must have an interest in how society develops. Götz Werner


Company facts

The first dm drugstore chain was founded in 1973 by Götz W. Werner in Karlsruhe, Germany. dm has approximately 2,700 shops and employs 44,000 people. In the fiscal year of 2011/2012, the company achieved sales of around 6.9 billion Euros. Of this sum, 5.1 billion originated in Germany.

About Goetz W. Werner

Götz Werner’s dm business concept and his idea for an unconditional basic income have received a lot of attention from various media outlets. “Götz Werner is pop. When he speaks – the hall is packed full– whether in Hamburg, Stuttgart or Berlin”, wrote the TAZ on the 27th of November 2006. “Oh, how wonderful it would be when the government had someone like Götz Werner, the man from the dm shops in their ranks, who has become successful by thinking and acting in an extraordinary way.” As written in the German newspaper Tagesspiegel on the 24th of June 2006.

Götz Werner’s anthroposophical foundation

Götz Werner’s vision is rooted in an anthroposophical ideology ofalignment and fulfillmentin thesocial system. The term Anthroposophy means „human wisdom“ and was founded by Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). „For Steiner, Anthroposophy stood for creating a consciousness of humanity (…),a guide toself-knowledgeandknowledge of the natureof man.“[1]


Goetz_WernerGötz Werner’s integral entrepreneurial compass

Purpose, vision & mission

In an interview with Martin Wittig, former CEO of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, Götz Werner sheds light on his vision and mission in business:

need to see the forest for the trees.If a company’s sole raison d’être is making society better, it must have an interest in how society develops. Social involvement is one of the most important roles of an entrepreneur, particularly when you get older. All entrepreneurs should aim to create scope for people within the business to become active outside of it. The better you know people, the better you can respond to their needs. If you can gain a better understanding of what drives people, you can be a better manager, know your customers and suppliers better, and predict the future more effectively. I don’t believe in extrinsic motivation; management must create a situation in which employees are intrinsically motivated – I’d even go so far as to say that bonus systems penalize workers. Employees need an income so they can live, and they need their work so they can grow.“[1]

Götz Werner describes the core principles of dm’s corporate culture and the underlying integral entrepreneurial compass in his book “Einkommen für alle” (Werner 2009):

Identity & strategy

  • We see our company as a modern community of people, with as little hierarchical structure as possible.
  • Not only do we want to encourage the competence of our staff, but also allow for the personal development of character. At dm, it is a goal to create a space that nurtures personal fulfillment.
  • The dm-spirit – Our products and store environment can easily be copied by competitors, but what makes us stand out is our inner stance, the place we operate from.



  • For us at dm, the basis for cooperation is grounded in collegial trust. At the heart of dm culture lies an overall positive, optimistic view of humanity coupled with confidence.
  • A negative view of humanity only ushers in aspects that make it impossible to build a positive and effective corporate culture. Distrust, pessimism, control mania, greed, self-centeredness, and yes, egoism all muddle good business.
  • When I am disappointed, it does nobody any good to become negative about everything. It is futile to pile on the stress and try to control everything. Control is evasive, and people and situations move on.
  • Freiherr von Stein said: „Confidence refines a man, eternal guardianship inhibits his maturity.“



  • Every human carries with them the wish to grow and bear fruit.
  • In a holistically run company, ROI (Return of investment) and ROS (return of sales) can be an important factor for success, but in order to provide sustainability for all intents and purposes, sometimes it’s important to let go of the reins.
  • Management isn’t there to put on the pressure, instead, it’s all about engaging in positive development.
  • The role of the supervisor is no longer about giving detailed orders, but to think strategically, and to lay the ground for fundamental steps to be taken. Managers need to keep in mind that setting a strategic path will only be fruitful when they can help strengthen their employee’s awareness of the strategy and what it calls for. It isn’t just about managing people; it is about encouraging their awareness.

 Photo Götz Werner by re:publica

[1] Ramge, T. (2011): The Detail of Retail: One-one one with Wittig, in Think Act Journal, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants September, München, P. 4-8
[1] Wikipedia: „Anthroposophie“ https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophie, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.de


weekly excerpt from the book THE NEXT WAVE IN BUSINESS
wishing you a successful week coming from human wisdom
truly yours, Stefan Götz+




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