Engage a cross-functional change management team
An effective change management process is often a key ingredient to make social innovation successful. Collaboration between internal champions with executive authority and functional expertise is important to drive ideas forward.
Since its founding in 1902, Royal DSM has continuously transformed itself – from coal mining to chemicals to a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. Innovation and sustainability were identified as key business drivers in its latest transformation and, starting in 2005, DSM’s Board led a number of internal change initiatives to embed these two core values across all its businesses. The Board members themselves assumed key roles in the change management process as Chairs or Sponsors of internal and external initiatives.
All DSM businesses were assigned a Sustainability Champion to drive change from within business units, ensure compliance with corporate policies and report on progress. Internal communication and training efforts – including the creation of an intranet focused on sustainability and innovation that offered regular webinars and training programmes to staff members – accelerated the adoption of these values internally.
Two new teams were created at the middle management level to support business units: the DSM Innovation Center focused on creating radically new innovations and enhancing the innovation performance of existing businesses and products, and the Corporate Sustainable Development department that drives the sustainability agenda by promulgating policies, setting company-wide targets and monitoring progress.
Changes were made at an operational level as well, to track compliance and provide the innovation and sustainability teams with the metrics required to make informed decisions. An existing department focused on operational excellence was given an expanded mandate to measure the social and environmental impacts of all DSM products throughout their life cycles, while the audit department conducts regular sustainability audits not only within DSM but on key partners and suppliers in its value chain. Since 2010, all business units report progress on sustainability targets on a quarterly basis. These efforts have helped the company to create a portfolio of competitive products: 95% of the new products in DSM’s innovation pipeline meet or exceed the sustainability thresholds set by the company.
Home page image: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate