Götz Werner, giving away everything

Götz Werner, giving away everything

17 February 2022 Gerald Häfner 2872 views

A moment like it had happened hundreds of times and I was honored to experience it in parts when we were on the road together for lectures: Götz Werner visited his dm branches in all the cities he traveled to.


Not, as one might think, talking to the store manager but he spoke to all the employees he met, personally, warmly, interested, asked how they are doing, how they like the work or how they perceive the people when they are at the checkout. His questions were not aimed at appearances, but always at the heart, at the participation, the commitment of the people.

Once, during such a store visit, he leaned against a shelf with an employee, with a piece of the shelf falling down because it was not properly mounted. The saleswoman mentioned that this had been broken for a while. She had told the store manager, but he hadn’t done anything yet. What did that lead to? Götz Werner said that it was absurd if she, who saw the problem, could not solve it herself, but had to wait until her superior had made a decision on it. It should be the case that everyone can decide for themselves and solve the problems in their field of work independently. After this incident, he changed the organization of his company. Here you can see Götz Werner’s incredible trust in the power of thought, of knowledge – in one’s own, but even more so that of all human beings. You don’t have to give people instructions, you have to support them in understanding connections. Then they themselves are able and motivated to make the right decisions.
Every Person is an Entrepreneur

I believe that this is far too little appreciated, that at dm he established and continuously developed this culture of self-determined work and dialogical cooperation as a model and role model for all other companies. Götz Werner has not only created enormous corporate value with Europe’s market leader in the drugstore trade, but he has also enabled 66,000 people to work meaningfully. His image was and is that in every human being you can find the dormant capacity for self-responsibility. When Joseph Beuys proclaimed to us: «Every person is an artist!», Götz Werner responds: «Every person is an entrepreneur!»

He had this confidence in every human being and believed that thinking makes reality accessible, that he or she can penetrate and understand reality if he or she thinks and with that can change it accordingly. While all too often we only look at abstract ideas and forget people and thus the ideas become systems or ideologies or, conversely, we only look at our fellow human beings and lose the clear thought, with Götz Werner both were two inseparable sides of the same coin – thinking and humanity.

This text is an excerpt from an article published in the weekly journal 'Das Goetheanum'. You can read the full article on the website of the weekly magazine.

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Cover Image: Goetz Werner, photographer: Stefan Pangritz