Recapturing the Credo

Johnson & Johnson has been known for its commitment to its credo that requires its executives and employees to conduct business responsibly and with the utmost concern for those they serve (which according to their credo includes patients, doctors and nurses).  However recently that image of J&J being the pinnacle of responsible business has been dinged quite a bit with numerous recalls ranging from its nonprescription medicine business to its joint replacement business and consumer health testing business. 

As reported in the HuffingtonPost, in the recent annual shareholders meeting J&J CEO Bill Weldon began by “touting J&J’s biggest deal ever, reached the day before. J&J agreed to buy U.S.-Swiss medical device maker Synthes Inc. for $21.3 billion. The deal, which should close next year, would give J&J a much bigger share of the market for surgical trauma equipment and orthopedic implants.”  Reportedly, according to Weldon, “It is consistent with our long-term strategy to strengthen our leadership position around the world.”

If Bill Weldon and J&J are really serious about strengthening its leadership position around the world then they should take a lesson from Toyota and place attention on becoming an organization committed to quality (and its improvement). Buying another company may make J&J larger but it won’t make them great. Only an unwavering commitment to quality can do that.

Recall Toyota’s management gave up its commitment to quality by focusing attention on becoming the largest automotive company in the U.S.—which they did achieve in surpassing a declining GM. But in so doing they changed the business of their business from providing quality to customers to maximizing material gain for themselves and they paid dearly for that mistaken decision. Since then they’ve gotten back to what made them the envy of all in the auto industry, quality.

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