Bulldog reports that Johnson & Johnson’s golden image is being tarnished by the revelation of improper payments made by foreign subsidiaries. I think just the opposite. Perhaps even more than the Tylenol case–which is routinely heralded as the best ever case study in managing a crisis–the way J&J is handling this serious situation sets the tone for crisis management in this age of transparency and authenticity.
In this case, some people affiliated with the company did some bad things (from a US perspective–global companies all struggle with a wide variation of what is ethical–but that is another matter). So what did the company do:
1) they disclosed it to the officials who would be charged with investigating them
2) they made their disclosure publicly–while making it clear that the company discovered and disclosed it proactively
3) the highest level executive who had oversight over this resigned, making clear that he accepted responsibility by virtue of his position. No mealy mouth talk about not knowing what was going on–if it happened on his watch, he accepted responsibility.
Bulldog’s headline writers consistently get the story wrong, as any long time reader of this blog will note. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe J&J will take a beating for this. It certainly is possible given how eager we all seem to be to take down those people and organizations who we have up on a pedestal. But from what I can see, this is a text book case of how to do it right when it hits the fan.