Quaint Leadership at J&J

In the recent August 1 issue of Fortune magazine they tallied the Global 500 … the largest companies worldwide.
#103 on the list is Johnson & Johnson. The writer of their success story, Erika Fry, focused a lot on how J&J would be worth more to shareholders if the conglomerate was broken up. She wrote about the successful track record of Goldman Sachs conglomerate-killer Jamie Rubin with Pfizer, Abbott and Baxter … in those cases, successfully releasing “unlocked value” to shareholders. Rubin estimated that the sum of J&J’s parts are worth $40 billion more than its whole.
My attraction to her story was Erika’s profiling of the J&J secret to managing their 250 operating companies.
Alex Gorski was given the J&J CEO rains in 2012 following several years of poor performance, product recalls and government oversight. Gorski made strategic changes but insisted that “decentralized did not mean disconnected”. Then the Fortune writer hit on their secret this way: “What he (Gorski) was determined to keep unchanged, hokey as it might sound, was the central role of the company’s credo.”
The 307 word credo, originally pinned under the second-generation Johnson leadership of Robert W Johnson II, can be summarized: “First are patients and physicians; second, employees; communities, third.”
Erika Fry: “Outside J&J’s walls the idea sounds improbably quaint – the sort of thing corporate HR departments trot out on “new employee day” and never mentioned again. Johnson-Johnson-Company-CredoBut at J&J the credo is as sacred as a constitution. 73 years later that credo is routinely invoked around the company. It’s inscribed in stone at the headquarters front entrance; it hangs in every meeting space; it’s there, supersized, on the wall across from Gorski’s desk. Until a decade ago, newly hired employees were mailed two copies of the credo – one to take to work, the other to frame at home.”
Here’s the power of a corporate cause, ideology or purpose: all work has meaning every day … especially when it’s declared and embraced by senior leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

We help executives impart elevated meaning to work … and life Here's how we do it