Novo Nordisk is a company with a typically Scandinavian sense of a company’s role in society, characterized by its use of the triple bottom line approach of economic viability + social responsibility + environmental soundness. While this notion is used by quite a few companies, in Novo Nordisk it lines up well with what is called internally ‘The Novo Nordisk Way of Management,’ which preceded its adoption of the triple bottom line approach. A set of guidelines and beliefs about how the company should be, it starts with a clear vision – ‘Novo Nordisk is changing diabetes’ – then describes the underpinning values and the structures and approaches that manage and ensure Novo Nordisk respects its core principles.
At a purely financial level Novo Nordisk has demonstrated an ability to continuously grow its business, delivering against internal targets of 15% growth from operating profits. Its performance from this perspective is one of the best in the industry, not least because it is driven not from one or two super blockbusters, but from a plethora of products. Its success has been built upon its ability to define a therapeutic area in its broadest sense and look for ways to impact on it. Where it stands out as a Growth Champion is in how it extends beyond the remit of other pharmaceutical companies and has taken on a mission to significantly impact diabetes prevention – and not necessarily through drugs.
It is exploring a space which is created by a social desire for wellness combined with the economic reality of burgeoning healthcare costs and significant economic deficits. Whilst other companies are still talking about ‘three blockbusters a year’ Novo is tackling a bigger challenge with a much more diversified set of tools.
Novo Nordisk sees that healthcare is more than just sick care and so has become as much focused on education and prevention as it has on improving the cure and dealing with chronic disease. By taking a total healthcare view encompassing drugs, devices, and preventative diabetes education underpinned by a relentless focus on the patient and extensive and inclusive stakeholder engagement, Novo Nordisk has not only taken the leadership in developing drugs for diabetes, but has also extended its focus to preventing the disease just as much as treating it, and so has led the way in the sick-care to healthcare migration which many now recognize is an imperative for the whole sector.