Our Credo and Our Purpose: Heart, Science and Ingenuity at Johnson & Johnson

Michael Sneed of Johnson & Johnson shares how they are activating their new statement of purpose – “We blend heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity” – across the organization and what the implications are for the future.

  • Joaquin Duato, Vice Chairman, Executive Committee, Johnson & Johnson
  • Michael Sneed, Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs & Chief Communications Officer, Johnson & Johnson

Session Photos



Michael Sneed of Johnson & Johnson shares how they are activating their new statement of purpose – “We blend heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity” – across the organization and what the implications are for the future. #PageSpring



Johnson & Johnson’s credo endures, so what was missing?

Sneed explains that while the credo was inculcated into the fabric of the company, decentralization of the enterprise itself meant its underlying purpose was not commonly understood:

“As we looked at the environment today, the question was how do we articulate the purpose that has always been part of J&J? Can we start to articulate what the purpose is, so people can feel it no matter where they are in the organization.”

Meanwhile, the healthcare world is increasingly complex:

Declining trust, increasingly empowered consumers, and chronic health issues combine to put pressure on healthcare companies to evolve more quickly.

“We are expecting things to change much more quickly in next 10 years than in the last 50.” – Sneed.

The scope of the challenge is significant: J&J has 260 companies around the world, 134,000 employees, across three business segments, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and consumer. While most of the business came from devices and drugs, much of the brand equity rested in the consumer side, namely “mother and baby.”

“How could we work together to take advantage of the unique strengths we have as an organization? What we were missing was a ‘why’ – ‘why do we exist beyond products and services’? – Sneed

“We want to think of ourselves like a 150-year-old startup. How do we create that speed of reinvention, innovation, at the same time grounded in values over the long term? That combination is a valuable one.” – Duato


Purpose Journey

Data collection:

  • Interviews with 150 people internally, plus other stakeholders.
  • Ride-alongs with employees.
  • Conversations with anthropologists about culture.
  • Symbiotic research, which studied relationships.


  • 31 employees from all regions and levels brought together for three days to immerse themselves in the data collected.
  • Group asked to answer one question: “What is this company like when it’s firing on all cylinders?”


J&J’s newly articulated purpose:

“We blend heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity.”


  • Be broadly based in healthcare
  • Use our reach and size for good
  • Lead with agility and urgency
  • Invest for enduring impact


  • Improved baby products: An enormous part of the company’s equity, but the products had not kept up with current trends away from artificial dyes and additives, due to the iconic identification of the gold baby shampoo and the pink baby lotion.

“We decided we were going to take on those sacred cows. We maintained heart of the brand, which is gentle.” – Sneed

  • Drug pricing transparency: This issue is a hot button one for the public as well as legislators, and J&J took the bold step of becoming the first company to include prices of medication, including average co-pay information, in its advertising, for top-selling brand Xarelto.

“We wanted to take a stand on it and bring more transparency.” – Sneed

  • Treatment for Tuberculosis: J&J released the first new medicine to treat TB in 50 years, which resulted in a five-times mortality reduction for those using this new medicine.

“This is not a commercial model – it’s an access model. We are trying to change the trajectory in a way that other companies can’t.” – Duato

  • Diversity & Inclusion: “At the heart of being an innovative company is the fact you have to reflect ethnic diversity.” – Sneed

One program, called RISE, focuses on empowering and sponsoring on diverse employees in building their careers.

  • Doing good at scale: Sight for Kids, global vision screening program for kids that checked 26 million children for eye problems and distributed free glasses.

“We can do things at scale in a way others can’t. If we can bring passion into play in the right places, our scale enables us to make a difference. Our size enables us to not have a short-term view, to attack problems others might not be able to attack.” – Duato


The Future

“The difficult part is actually getting this moving – it takes time. Once you get the ball rolling downhill it picks up speed. We’ve been in this three years and are now seeing acceleration.” – Sneed

“Every day in our company there are decisions about pricing, manufacturing, medical safety – the common language for the company is, ‘Let’s make sure we think through the purpose’.” – Duato


In their own words:

“If you only admire your history it won’t be long before you’re part of it. You have to keep looking forward”

– Sneed

“You need to have a North Star, and that is our purpose. The elements of the purpose help us continue to be innovative, help us continue to drive that speed.”

– Duato

“You have to listen to the organization and have them tell you what the purpose is. It’s got to be embedded in how you actually run the company.”

– Sneed

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