By Kevin Meyer
A few days ago I told you about Johnson & Johnson hitting the big 4-0… forty recalls that is. Truly an amazing achievement to be that pathetic in terms of manufacturing competence. But now they seem poised to do it one better – maybe they're aiming for a hundred or something.
Johnson & Johnson promoted the heads of its two largest businesses to the company's highest executive suite, intensifying the race to succeed William Weldon as chairman and chief executive officer of the health-care giant.
Sheri McCoy, who has been running J&J's pharmaceuticals group, and Alex Gorsky, previously chief of the company's medical-devices and diagnostics division, were named vice chairmen in the expanded Office of the Chairman. Each lieutenant will also take on some responsibility for fixing the quality problems in the consumer unit that have led to recalls of the painkiller Tylenol and other products.
Ahh… nothing like a good fist fight, eh? The gods of internal corporate politics are smiling! And how will this impact J&J's biggest headache, the recall bonanza?
Notably, each will play a role in fixing the beleaguered consumer business, where numerous product recalls since late 2009 and a temporary shutdown of a key plant due to manufacturing problems are costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales and plant upgrades. The manufacturing issues have included the presence of metal shavings in some children's medicine bottles.
Mr. Gorsky will take control of the new manufacturing-and-supply group created in the wake of the problems to make sure all plants meet quality standards. Meantime, Ms. McCoy will gain oversight of the consumer business that includes the McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit responsible for the bulk of the recalls.
So let's get this straight… responsibility for the problem will be divvied up between two people who have just a year to prove themselves worthy of the big chair.
Yep, short-term thinking and solutions will abound, created within a framework of politics and personal agendas, competing instead of coordinating and aligning. Good luck with that. Why not get it over with and simply outsource or sell everything to a company that actually cares about manufacturing? Then you can focus purely on the beloved almighty brand. Somewhere somehow there's value in that. Supposedly.