A Bitter Pill

It can be difficult to comprehend how a company like Johnson & Johnson, with a long history of excellence, can suddenly find itself struggling so mightily.

Beset by quality-control problems, which have prompted a string of recalls, the pharmaceutical giant is now facing a falloff in sales as consumers switch from its name-brand products—Tylenol, Motrin, Rolaids, Benadryl and more—in favor of generic drugs and rivals’ offerings.

“It looks like a plane spinning out of control,” says David Vinjamuri, a former J&J marketing employee, told The New York Times. To us, the episode is reminiscent to what happened in 2009 and 2010 at Toyota

[EXPAND More]The reasons for the manufacturing troubles at J&J’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit remain unclear. But as Peter Drucker noted, setting controls in any organization can be difficult. “Control has to be by feedback from the work done,” Drucker wrote in his 1973 book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. “The work itself has to provide the information. If it has to be checked all the time, there is no control.

“One implication of this—and a very important one—is that inspection is not control,” Drucker continued. “Inspection, especially final inspection, is, of course, needed for both goods and services. But if used as a control, it fast becomes too cumbersome, too expensive, and a drag on the process itself. Above all, it does not really control, even if every product is tested and analyzed. The end result would still be poor quality, excessive defects and malfunction.”

Do you think J&J can regain control of its operations? And, if so, how much damage will the company suffer in the meantime?[/EXPAND]

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