Bloomberg Businessweek recently published an article on the woes that Johnson and Johnson is having as a result of quality issues. Quality products are the hallmark of a successful company. A good reputation for quality is what keeps customers coming back. Whenever a company takes its eye off of the of the quality of its products its reputation suffers and bad things can happen unless corrected quickly. In the medical device and pharmaceutical world quality is defined by the FDA in terms of patient safety and the efficacy of the product. To be fair Johnson and Johnson is not the first health care corporation to have problems with quality. Some big names have come up in the last several years including Merck, Abbott, Baxter, etc. Several years ago clearly recognizing the issue Baxter had a very large recruiting event for quality related positions. But if the report linked below is true J&J issues appear to be endemic and the CEO is doing all he can to deny it. Not a good sign if it isn’t followed up with action. Reportedly J&J has the where with all to weather the storm. While the executives hand wave to the public I am sure that there are a lot of Johnson and Johnson employees feverishly developing plans for and reviewing quality systems and processes. Maybe they will have their own quality recruiting event in the near future.
As I delved further into this story I came across a description of J and J’s response to another product issue in the “Vital Difference: Unleashing the Power of Sustained Corporate Success”. The product was Tylenol and the response by J&J at the time was very proactive and aggressive. The authors of the book credited the response to J&J credo Our Credo – Johnson & Johnson . The current apparently tepid response to a series of quality issues is puzzling given the Tylenol historical example. It will be very revealing of current corporate culture to see how they continue to respond. Given the current response I believe it is fair to ask whether Johnson & Johnson is the same corporation it was before 1982.
Here is the story;