As one of the world’s largest crop protection businesses, how can we secure our licence to operate, engage farmers to drive growth and establish a credible position in how we will support feeding the world’s rapidly growing population?

Farming: the biggest job on earth

BASF Crop Protection is a key division of BASF, one of the largest companies in Germany and one of the world’s largest chemical companies with annual revenues of over €100bn. Fortitude was asked to work with the Executive Committee to clarify the division’s strategic priorities and ambition.

The 10 billion people challenge

Our starting point was to clarify the leadership’s level of ambition in terms of the contribution the company could legitimately and credibly make to solving one of the world’s greatest challenges - feeding a population that is expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050 from the current 7.3 billion.

We need to change the whole food system; we need to change the way we produce food, and the way we eat it.
— José Graziano da Silva, United Nations. February 2017
Photo by CaraMaria/iStock / Getty Images

Collective spirit

We interviewed each member of the Executive Committee to clarify strategic priorities and ambition. Specifically, we wanted to pinpoint key areas of focus that all Executive Committee members could sign up to.

A joint ambition

From these interviews, we crafted an ‘ambition statement’ outlining the strategic direction the leadership wished to go in. This was framed around the moral imperative that food is a basic right and the concept of a movement which recognised that collective action was required to meet the challenge.

Spreading the word

The ambition statement provided a platform from which we could develop collateral and engagement tools for internal and external engagement.

We worked with each member of the Executive Committee to understand and capture their personal stories making a direct connection with the strategy and ambition statement. We translated this into filmed interviews and personalised speeches used for internal engagement and external engagement. This was critical in emotionally and rationally engaging employees and stakeholders.

To ensure the spirit contained in the ambition statement would connect with the rest of the organisation, Fortitude designed a workshop for around 100 of the Executive Committee's direct reports to translate ambition statement into tangible actions across the business.

To help deliver on the ambition required the support of those outside of the organisation. We therefore designed external engagement plans, including farmers and competitors, to address the global food challenge.


  • Fully aligned and energised leadership team.

  • Engaged senior management teams.

  • A plan to engage smallholder and industrial farmers

  • More productive stakeholder engagement especially with regulators

  • The beginnings of global coalition-building on food security.