What Defining a Common Purpose Can Do for a Company

When G.V. Prasad hired IDEO to identify a unifying core purpose for his global pharmaceutical company, Dr. Reddy’s, he had no idea how a few words would make such a big difference. We asked him to explain how the phrase “Good health can’t wait,” has had an effect on the organization.

What impact have these words had on Dr. Reddy's?

Every part of the business resonates with this. It has been a powerful unifier. Our previous motto was too broad, and focused more on novel, proprietary products, not really the core business we were in. And it was not actionable. In a sense, the words “can’t wait” puts people on the spot to be agile, dynamic, not become bureaucratic, even as we’re growing big. Now I see that every part of the business resonates with this idea of helping patients as the focus of our business. “Can’t wait” expresses a sense of motivation. It drives people to do more, faster, better. It’s changing the whole culture of the organization.

What evidence have you seen that employees have taken the motto to heart?

Over the years as the company has grown, we’ve built in lots of procedures, and for many good reasons. But those procedures have also slowed us down. After we introduced the idea of “Good health can’t wait,” one of the scientists told me he developed a product in 15 days and broke every rule there was in the company. He was proudly stating that! Normally, just getting the raw materials would take him months, not to mention the rest of the process for making the medication. But he was acting on that urgency. And now he’s taking this lesson of being lean, and applying it to all our procedures.

The average employee wants to know what the expectation is, and accordingly, to work towards it. When we say “Can’t wait,” it’s about that dynamism, empathy, that is really motivating to go beyond what they would normally do and realizing that the organization will celebrate this over everything else.

Where do you see Dr. Reddy's going?

Before, we were focused on products, and now we’re focused on patients, which has led to a whole line of services that go beyond the pill, and it’s taking off in the India business. Now there is a whole group of people constantly thinking about what can we do to make the patient journey better. What can we do with other things to make patients want to work with us. So those kind of things in effect are helping us and having an impact on the strategy.

The other part is that internally, the fact that empathy is being dialed up is helping people work together. The hope is that this thinking and dynamism gets ingrained in people. As we grow in size, we don’t get paralyzed by bureaucracy. We’ll be agile and build a unique culture. To a certain extent, it helps everybody to think very clearly now.

Other values we’ve been talking about are quality and safety, and all of this has a place in this journey, in service of the patient. It’s all falling very nicely together: the brand, the brand values, our own values.

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Mar 2016

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