Pain Medicine and Corporate Integrity

In an era marked by cavalier wrongdoing-high profile scandals - ethical fiascoes-unchecked greed-and lack of accountability - the Tylenol case deserves another look. It is an exemplary case of the advantages of corporate integrity.

Johnson & Johnson is one of America's premier public companies. For decades, it and its products enjoyed a sterling reputation. Then, in the 1980's it confronted a full-blown crisis. In the Chicago area, seven persons died after taking Tylenol laced with cyanide.

From coast to coast, the story struck the news media like a cyclone. Plaintiff lawyers threatened wrongful death suits, and later filed them. Consumers were robbed of a sense of security and became distrustful. The company's most priceless assets, its trustworthiness and stellar reputation, were unexpectedly at grave risk.

Contrary to public reaction, the company was blameless. It was responsible for no wrongdoing, no neglect, and no oversight. Nevertheless, J&J faced a critical decision; how should it handle the crisis?

Under the superb leadership of CEO, James Burke, J&J relied upon the indispensable virtue of integrity, the capacity to stand by principles, standards, and ideals. Accordingly, it rejected a policy of denial, evasion, and avoidance and held firm to lines from its Credo, "... our first responsibility is to all who use our products and services..."

J&J adopted a forthright approach. It recalled 30 million bottles of Tylenol, valued at $100 million. Events confirmed it as the right course of action. Post recall surveys revealed that that nearly 90 percent of those polled believed J&J was without fault. It soon emerged once more on the higher ground of public opinion. The marketplace followed suit. When the company re-introduced its product with tamper-resistant packing, it swiftly re-gained 37 percent of market share.

One more case arose. In 1986, a Peekskill New York woman died also from cyanide laced Tylenol. Again, the media rushed upon the scene. The television program, 60 Minutes, sought an interview with a top company official.

Many executives argued strongly against it. They had good reasons. Previous actions brought favorable support. Potential damage from a nation-wide TV interview outweighed possible benefits. CEO Burke disagreed. He was confident the new safety-sealed packaging would win more customers. He granted the 60 Minute interview, along with several others, and customers returned in great numbers.

To this day, J&J's handling of the Tylenol poisoning remains the gold standard of corporate integrity. It is proof The First Great Virtue-vital element of persons, professionals, companies, and organizations-can produce a big payoff, positive and beneficial to all concerned.

Jim Thomas is a seventh generation Georgian. A former partner in two of Georgia's historic law firms, located in Savannah and Dublin, Jim spent much of his legal career at the Trial Bar, where he acted as lead counsel in approximately 100 jury trials. His speech on Individual Integrity has been quoted in numerous publications include Vital Speeches of the Day and Fortune magazine. He is a frequent contributor to various print publications and blogs on the topic of personal and professional integrity, and bridging the gap on this topic between the current four generations at work. Jim holds degrees from the University of Georgia and Emory University Law School. He has also attended various programs at Harvard University.

The 7 Principles of Business Integrity

If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't
have integrity, nothing else matters. -- Alan K. Simpson

If I were to ask you what attribute is the most influential
in regard to the success of a business, would you know
immediately which one is the most important? Based on my
many years as a business owner and entrepreneur, I have
discovered that at the very top of the list is the
distinguishing quality of integrity. Without integrity at
the helm of a company, a business is usually short-lived. In
fact, when business integrity is present throughout the
deepest layers of a company and not just at its surface, it
becomes the heart and soul of the company's culture and can
mean the difference between a company that succeeds and a
company that falters.

The Internet's Immeasurable Impact on the Marketplace!

The importance of integrity has always existed among the
business community, but in recent times has been shown as
falling short. It is the Internet's immeasurable impact on
the global marketplace that is now making the expression of
integrity, reliability and credibility extremely important.
Furthermore, the consequence of global competition means
that customers will simply not consider a company that shows
any less than the highest level of integrity. Since there is
a wealth of competitive companies easily available and
accessible via the Internet, there is in fact no need to
accept anything less than the best.

Where Does Integrity Start?

In an effort to build upon a foundation of integrity, the
first requirement would be to establish excellent rapport
with clients. Based on many years of study, the best and
most practiced method for achieving rapport is by way of
Relationship Marketing. Just as it sounds, Relationship
Marketing is founded on the single and most critical
characteristic, known as "Integrity." However, achieving
true integrity with clients often leaves many an
entrepreneur bewildered, grasping for techniques and
strategies that guarantee their futures. But integrity is
not something that can be grasped and then simply used.
Integrity in its essence must be so ingrained within the
nature of an individual, its company and the team members,
that it remains steadfast no matter what. Without question,
others sense it and find it very attractive.

The True Nature of Integrity!

Now you are probably asking yourself, what is the true
nature of integrity? There are in fact some very basic
principles that surround the qualities of business
integrity. At its core, integrity begins with a company
leader who understands the qualities of integrity which then
filters down throughout the company into every department
and every member's approach and attitude.

In recent research performed by the Institute of Business
Ethics- an organization which is among the world's leaders
in promoting corporate ethical best practices, it was found
that companies displaying a "clear commitment to ethical
conduct" almost invariably outperform companies that do not
display ethical conduct. The Director of the Institute of
Business Ethics, Philippa Foster Black, stated: "Not only is
ethical behavior in the business world the right and
principled thing to do, but it has been proven that ethical
behavior pays off in financial returns." These findings
deserve to be considered as an important tool for companies
striving for long-term prospects and growth.

The following 7 Principles of Business Integrity are the
basics of integrity and a good starting off place to
consider. By integrating each of these principles within a
company environment, the result will be nothing short of a
major rebirth of the enterprise.

Principle #1: Recognize that customers/clients want to do business
with a company they can trust; when trust is at the core
of a company, it is easy to recognize. Trust defined is
assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or
truth of a business.

Principle #2: For continuous improvement of a company, the leader
of an organization must be willing to open up to ideas
for betterment. Ask for opinions and feedback from
both customers and team members and your company
will continue to grow.

Principle #3: Regardless of the circumstances, do everything in your
power to gain the trust of past customer's and clients,
particularly if something has gone awry. Do what you
can to reclaim any lost business by honoring all
commitments and obligations.

Principle #4: Re-evaluate all print materials including small business advertising, brochures and other business documents
making sure they are clear, precise and professional;
most important make sure they do not misrepresent or

Principle #5: Remain involved in community-related issues and
activities thereby demonstrating that your business is a
responsible community contributor. In other words, stay

Principle #6: Take a hands-on approach in regard to accounting and
record keeping, not only as a means of gaining a better
feel for the progress of your company, but as a resource
for any "questionable " activities; gaining control of
accounting and record keeping allows you to end any
dubious activities promptly.

Principle #7: Treat others with the utmost of respect. Regardless of
differences, positions, titles, ages, or other types of
distinctions, always treat others with professional
respect and courtesy.

While it is most certainly an integral and positive step for
a small business to recognize the significance of integrity
as a tool for achieving its desired outcomes, that is only
the beginning. What must truly be recognized for true
success is that while certain precise universal principles
lead to business integrity, it is in the overall mindset of
the company and the unfailing implementation of these key
elements that an enterprise is truly defined. A small
business that instills a deep-seated theme of integrity
within its strategies and policies will not only be evident
among customers, associates and partners, but its overall
influence cannot help but to result in a profitable,
successful company. By recognizing the value of integrity,
and following each of the aforementioned 7 principles for
achieving integrity, your success cannot be far off.