Is Johnson & Johnson the definition of a company with a purpose? There’s a lot to back up this argument: in 1943, just before it became a publicly traded company, the values meant to guide all its decision-making were spelled out in its Credo. Famously, this statement challenges everyone in this $85bn company to put the needs and well-being of the people it serves first. This includes promises to employees like an inclusive work environment where each person is considered as an individual, and managers respect their diversity and dignity and recognize their merit.
In this week’s episode, we unpack these ideas — as well as Johnson & Johnson’s ongoing claim that the Credo is both a moral compass and “a recipe for business success” — in a conversation with its Global Head of Talent Development, Clint Kofford. Our verdict: the ideas do seem to hold up … and much can be learned from J&J’s example.
Sound mind, sound body?
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a healthcare company, purpose has not just an ethical or process face at Johnson & Johnson, but also a physical one: the company believes unleashing employee “spiritual energy” has to happen via developing the body, too, via nutrition and performance support. As a result, Clint tells us, L&D is a lot more than a facility with a bunch of classrooms, but all about helping the individual in all aspects of their lives.
Toward wholly-personalized career pathways
A fascinating aspect of purpose at this 130-year-old company is how much stays the same and how much changes. A recent re-orientation means a new focus on purpose as a talent development factor, with Clint and his team starting a whole company-wide conversation about skillsets and an aim of wholly-personalized career planning.
Purpose: the great gift L&D’s been waiting for?
The takeaway for Dani, Stacia, and Chris from their conversation with Clint is that purpose really could be the glue that holds talent together — but that internal paradigms may need to shift to make that happen, especially around the status of non-full-time employees. They also conclude that purpose may, in fact, be what every learning professional has been dreaming of all these years: as a way to harness the truly unique talent of an organization to bring out its best.
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