06 January 2021

The Purpose Company | Is Purpose Working Podcast Episode 6

Dani Johnson
Co-founder & Principal Analyst

TL;DR

  • This is the 6th episode of our podcast season: Is Purpose Working?
  • In this episode, Dani Johnson of RedThread and Chris Pirie of Learning is the New Working interview Global Head of Talent Development at Johnson & Johnson, Clint Kofford
  • Clint shares, why he is convinced Johnson & Johnson’s Credo is more than just a moral compass, but a recipe for business success.
  • He talks about the Human Performance Institute, and its roots in sports psychology, and how the Institute is now the new internal J&J ‘brand’
  • And How he thinks Purpose is the glue that holds Talent together—but how internal paradigms may need to shift around the status of non-full time employees first
  • A special thanks to our season Sponsor, NovoEd for their support!

Listen

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Guest

Clint Kofford, Global Head of Talent Development at Johnson & Johnson

Details

In this episode, our guest tells us, “My Purpose is to bring hope to every employee of Johnson & Johnson.” We have no doubt he means it—and what makes this even more interesting is that he’s working in an $85 billion enterprise that many see as being one of the very first American brands to publicly commit to Purpose. The company is Johnson & Johnson, a brand founded in 1886 that develops medical devices, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods, and the individual we’re speaking to about Purpose is its Global Head of Talent Development, Clinton Kofford.

Today, we’re going to delve into what Clint means by his statement—as well as how Johnson & Johnson’s Purpose statement. Their famous Credo feeds into what he and all other 135,000 team members do every day. As you may know, the Credo, written in 1932, lays out how it is “responsible to our employees who work with us throughout the world.” That managers must always strive to “provide an inclusive work environment where each person must be considered as an individual”—but just as importantly, “When we operate according to these principles, the stockholders should realize a fair return.” Amazing stuff for 1932; still pretty cool to today—which is why we knew J&J had to be a big part of Season 7, where we’re working to understand Purpose in modern American business… and why Clint is convinced the Credo’s more than just a moral compass, but a recipe for business success. And we do a great dialog with him, not from a line-by-line analysis of any Purpose statement.

This podcast interview covers topics like:

  • His day to day role leading of Johnson & Johnson’s management and leadership development work
  • What the mechanism is for doing that at the company, the Human Performance Institute, and its roots in sports psychology, and how the Institute is now the new internal J&J ‘brand’
  • Purpose and L&D and how new personalized career paths are starting to energize the team
  • How, as a Learning professional, he’s doing what every Learning professional wants—harness the unique talents of everyone in the organization to bring out the best
  • How he thinks Purpose is the glue that holds Talent together—but how internal paradigms may need to shift around the status of non-full time employees first

Resources

Webinar

This season will culminate in a live online gated experience (a webcast) where we'll review and debate what we've learned. Seats are limited. Secure your place today, over at www.novoed.com/purpose.

Partner

We're also thrilled to be partnering with Chris Pirie, CEO of Learning Futures Group and voice of the Learning Is the New Work podcast. Check them both out.

Season Sponsor

Global enterprises rely on its collaborative online learning platform to build high-value capabilities that result in real impact, with its customers working to deliver powerful, engaging learning that activates deep skill development, from leadership to design thinking and digital transformation, as well as driving measurable business outcomes.

TRANSCRIPT

Chris Pirie :
You're listening to ‘Learning Is the New Working,’ a podcast by the Learning Futures Group about the future of workplace learning and the people helping define it. This episode is another of our collaborations with RedThread Research in a season that we call ‘Is Purpose Working?’

Clint Kofford:
Johnson & Johnson has long been a purpose-based organization, and the story of our founders and what they were trying to achieve and to accomplish was certainly much more about purpose and broad impact in the world than it ever was about profits.

Chris Pirie :
That was Clint Kofford. He's the global head of the Performance Institute at Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson is the largest, most broadly based healthcare company in the world and one of only a handful of companies that's been successful for over a century of operations. Their story illustrates that being purpose driven is by no means a new or recent phenomenon. We're starting this episode with the debrief conversation by way of an executive summary for you. I sat down with Stacia and Dani to talk about the conversation we had with Clint. And I started by asking Statia to give us some context regarding Johnson & Johnson and its significance to a conversation about purpose and talent.

Stacia Garr :
J&J is in many ways, one of the best-known organizations when it comes to purpose. They have their credo, which started in 1943, which was developed in 1943. And it was developed by Robert Wood Johnson the Second, and really came from this place of kind of human dignity. He actually said when he first developed it, that he thought that the whole matter of dignity and employment boils down to every worker from the chairman of the board to the office boy or sweeper is a human being and that they are endowed with this ego. And that in some ways modern business had reduced the size of that ego, but that it was actually critical for an organization to enable that ego. Then that sense of I am a person who matters. And so when he developed this credo, he was thinking about that concept starting first with the patients, doctors, the nurses, the mothers and fathers, but then going through all the different stakeholders and really fundamentally coming back to the sense of dignity and that their purpose as an organization was to connect back to that sense of dignity.

Stacia Garr:
I think it's also interesting, you know, he even anticipates the idea that some people might say, well, you know, this isn't what a business is about. And the credo was actually developed before J&J went public. And so it was a very clear statement to potential shareholders that this is where we stand. This is, these are our values. And then he actually put into the end of the credo, he said, if we put our customers first and followed through on our other responsibilities, I assure you the stockholders will be well-served. I think it's a beautiful way to kind of pull it all together. And again, to recognize that dignity of people.

Chris Pirie:
We think of this purpose as being a new concept because of all the recent news around the Business Roundtable. But in fact, organizations have operated from this point of perspective for many years. And if anything, the ’70s and Milton Friedman focus on shareholder primacy is kind of a blip that I find that very interesting and comforting maybe.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, I think it is interesting and comforting. That said, I think that there has long been a focus on an efficiency mindset of capitalism. So if you go back to a book that we started the series talking about, Chris, ‘The Enlightened Capitalist,’ James O'Toole makes the point that, you know, these purpose-driven organizations have often been anomalies, whether you're talking about Robert Owen or the founders of Unilever. So it hasn't, the idea isn't new, but the idea that it should be widespread or widely adopted is not necessarily firmly established, shall we say, even, you know, starting with the 1700s. But I do think that this ultra focus on the shareholder is a blip because I think that the general mindset in many instances, certainly not all is particularly when you look at the industrialists with the 1920s, but in many instances, it isn't over-focused. And I think maybe we're correcting back.

Chris Pirie:
Yeah. And also, this idea that they're in opposition, that you can, you know, you can't have both together and that's clearly being reexamined. A couple of things from our conversation with Clint that was really interesting to me. One was this Human Performance Institute that he runs and how the physical, emotional, and mental energies come together. And he talked about spiritual energy as really quite amazing.

Stacia Garr:
When he said spiritual, he immediately then said, ‘which for me means purpose.’ He came immediately connected spiritual to purpose. And the point that he made, I think there was that you can have these other capabilities, you know, the mental, the physical, et cetera, but until you align them and have that already, you don't achieve that next level of performance with those most successful people were doing. And that was in some ways, a beautiful way of explaining much of what we've been talking about, which is that enablement and that alignment of purpose is that thing that enables that higher level. We've been talking about organizational performance and he was talking about individual, but really that higher level of performance.

Chris Pirie:
He also said, this is another theme that I'm getting from all of these conversations to keep coming back to this is, that is the credo comes in super handy when we have to make decisions. Purpose brings clarity.

Dani Johnson:
I thought one of the interesting things that he's doing with that Institute is he's not just focusing on the mental. So most organizations think of sort of purpose as a mental exercise, but he brought in this idea of paying attention to diet and paying attention to weight and equipping the people in the organization with tools to take care of those things as well. So they're not just worried about the mental aspect of their folks or the people that they serve. They're worried about the entire person.

Chris Pirie:
Yeah. Shipping out these advanced tools to people's homes in the COVID in order to keep that focus on your physical wellbeing as well as your mental wellbeing.

Stacia Garr:
I think this was one of the clearest examples we saw from somebody of a connection between individual purpose and what the organization was enabling. So that career planner that he mentioned, and then tying all of that back to the credo. So we say in the credo that we need to have a sense of security and purpose in our jobs. And so we're having this conversation with people about their purpose and then connecting that to their career aspirations. I just found that so remarkable in almost like the Holy Grail of what we've been looking for in these conversations of how do you take a concept and make it rigorous and something individuals can actually connect to.

Chris Pirie:
Yeah. And a very clear role for L&D in this whole conversation and this argument, that real clear tactic. The one other thing I thought was interesting in the conversation was a little bit countertrend to what I see, and that is they're taking this performance Institute and they're focusing it inwards in and quite a lot of companies right now are taking their learning engines and using them to engage with external stakeholders, customers, and partners. They're obviously very, very focused on turning this to get their own performance and where it needs to be. I thought was kind of interesting too.

Dani Johnson:
What do you make of that, Chris?

Chris Pirie:
I was surprised. I think he says in the conversation that they're going to offer it to some strategic partners. And like I say, it's a little bit countertrend, and it'd be interesting to see how that plays out.

Dani Johnson:
I think it's countertrend, but I wonder if that's where we're going. I wonder if the pendulum is swinging back and they're just a little bit ahead of the curve.

Chris Pirie:
Could be. He does also talk about access to talent and more, less traditional ways to access talent at one point in our conversation, which I thought was quite interesting that he's thinking about that too, when he's thinking about the future.

Dani Johnson:
Yeah. I've actually talked to a couple of people from J&J since then, and they mentioned the same thing. They're trying to figure out how to not just take care of the talent that has a W2, but also the talent that they borrow from external sources.

Chris Pirie:
Well, this is all about our next season, isn't it? And skills and skill models, skill access models.

Stacia Garr:
May I ask maybe a counterpoint? Because you both were saying that it's not on trend, but maybe a different interpretation. It says very on trend in that Dani, you and I have been talking about the integration of learning performance engagement, et cetera. And maybe because they combined their talent function with this Human Performance Institute. And as you said, that Institute is looking at the whole person. Maybe it's actually just a little bit more forward-thinking in that holistic view of what's happening with employees and bringing it all together in a meaningful way that also includes, you know, leadership and wellbeing. So maybe in that way, it's very, very on-trend. Yeah.

Chris Pirie:
I completely buy that. And I just think that generally this notion of having a learning function that is customer or partner focused and then turning it to point almost exclusively internal that's what's a little bit different from other models that I'm seeing.

Stacia Garr:
But it's kind of an interesting leverage question, isn't it? Because if you think about external, there's a limit potentially on the leverage that they're getting from those resources being externally focused and that being the amount of revenue that they're bringing in through that team and effectively, they're saying if we turn that inside the revenue that we're going to be able to generate by making our own people more effective is much greater than we were with this as an externally facing unit that have to run its own P&L. So maybe it's just a really big bet on them.

Chris Pirie:
Yeah. Very, very, very good point. And I think also the trend towards engaging customers and partners is not necessarily driven as a revenue generating activity, which this was, right? So that might be something that's a little bit different.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah. I bet you it's not at all. I think that's entirely a kind of a relationship thing and maybe an extension of purpose, you know. When you think about back to their credo, you know, all these different groups, these strategic partners are very clearly a part of their community. When you talk about we're responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well.

Chris Pirie:
Great conversation, a very interesting guy and clearly purpose-driven organization. Exemplary.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, I think we were, we were lucky to get kind of, one of—we started this season talking about who we'd most like to talk to. And I think any of these kind of standard bearer organizations, a purpose was at the top of our list or it should have been. And so I feel lucky that we were able to have the conversation.

Clint Kofford:
So my name is Clint Kofford. I am the global head of the Human Performance Institute at Johnson & Johnson. And today is September 24.

Chris Pirie:
We all start with a question about what part of the world you live in, Clint, and why do you live and work there?

Clint Kofford:
So I live in north central New Jersey, about 60 minutes from New York City. And I live here, you know, predominantly because of my job. So I work for Johnson & Johnson. That's located in New Brunswick, New Jersey is where our headquarters are.

Chris Pirie:
How would you describe the kind of work that you do?

Clint Kofford:
I have the responsibility and privilege really of leading all of our enterprise development efforts. And so what that primarily focuses on is manager and leadership development at all of our levels. So everything from our individual contributors that would come in and need learning to grow and develop in their careers all the way up to our most senior executives. And again, would be focused in the areas like growth programs or capabilities and skills that would help people grow, management capability, leadership development but also enterprise skills like digital and data science where we're leaning in. And we don't own those exclusively, but partner with a number of our kind of stakeholders across the enterprise to bring to life these capabilities for Johnson & Johnson.

Chris Pirie:
Now, there can't be many people on the planet who are not familiar with the brand Johnson & Johnson, but can you just kind of in case someone's been under a rock, could you describe the business model and then how the Human Performance Institute sort of fits into that?

Clint Kofford:
Johnson & Johnson is the largest and most diversified healthcare company in the world. And we have three big sectors that we operate in and that's the pharmaceutical sector, the medical device sector, and consumer health caresector.

Chris Pirie:
And the Institute's role in all that?

Clint Kofford:
Yeah, so the Human Performance Institute was originally founded over just over 30 years ago by two individuals, Dr. Jack Groppel and Dr. Jim Loehr. And at the time they were at the forefront of their fields and sports physiology and sports psychology, and they were studying tennis athletes. And what they realized was what separated the number one tennis athletes from the rest was, you know, a combination of practices that help them really hone their, how they use their physical, mental, and emotional energy to bring about their spiritual energy, which is their purpose. So these kind of guiding principles of energy management of resilience of character have really launched into opportunities to develop corporations in what they called for many years, the corporate athlete, and the Human Performance Institute was a standalone entity. It was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2008. And for the first 12 years, in Johnson & Johnson, was a commercial business for us.

Clint Kofford:
It operated as part of our healthcare sector as part of our health and wellness set of businesses and has done a tremendous job for us in building brand equity with other companies, helping to teach and broaden the skillsets of energy management and resilience across many, many companies. So we have clients that span all industries and nonprofits and for-profit companies. But we made the decision, the strategic decision, early this year to make the Human Performance Institute really focus much more internally than ever before. And while obviously we had been taking advantage of its programs, we merged the legacy Human Performance Institute with our talent development function, so that it became truly our new brand for learning and development at Johnson & Johnson. And now provides us with this holistic view of what leadership really is and what leaders need to do and how to develop not only the capabilities, but the capacity and the character to lead. And so that's what we're really focused on now is focusing primarily on our employees internally with all the amazing things that the Institute has done. And then our strategic customers will continue to be served as we move forward. And we're ending our commercial operations, our general commercial operations, at the end of 2020.

Chris Pirie:
Oh, that's really interesting. So, so you are flipping from having an external focus to being a hundred percent focused on J&J employees.

Clint Kofford:
Correct. Well, I mean, not a hundred percent. I mean, we, again, we'll still service our strategic customers. So these would be, you know, in the pharmaceutical space, these would be some of the insurance groups, medical device space. This is a hospital systems in the consumer space, this is, you know, the CVSs and Walmarts and Walgreens of the world and so on. So there's still some external focus for sure, but I mean, it's kind of the equivalent of, you know, the Disney Institute flipping from being focused externally to coming inside and really trying to drive massive culture change within the business.

Dani Johnson:
Just out of curiosity, Clint. This is Dani. How, why was that decision made? What drove that decision?

Clint Kofford:
Well, I think there's a desire for us to better, well, one—I think in this war, the future, with the future of work and all the trends that drive around, you know, are kind of showing, you know, the importance of purpose and the importance of leadership development. We realized we had an amazing asset on our hands that was not doing as much good internally as it was externally. And at the same time we had an opportunity to some of our internal programs and the positioning of our offerings. And so being able to combine these gives us a platform that allows us to do, you know, a lot more good when we've got now a facility based in Orlando. So in some ways, you know, it's to use the GE analogy, right? This is, it's kind of a smaller version of Crotonville, but it's all geared around, you know, the holistic person.

Clint Kofford:
So it's not just facility with a bunch of classrooms. I mean, this facility is designed to be able to allow us to run our performance program, which requires, you know, that people participate in, you know, exercises and, you know, we help guide them through different ways and means that they can increase their physical energy. We talk and teach a lot about how to eat right and how that drives energy and the quality of energy. And also, you know, some of the health assessments that we're able to run through that facility. So there's a lot of, you know, benefits that we're going to get internally by having the intellectual property, the facilities, the brand, the process excellence of that the Human Performance Institute brings.

Chris Pirie:
Can you talk a little bit about the population in J&J? How many people work there, kind of job roles and what are the demographic trends that you have?

Clint Kofford:
Yeah, so we have about 135,000 employees across the world. Roughly half would be in our supply chain organization. We're in all the major countries and all regions. So, I mean, we are truly a, I would call it a global organization, not just a multinational organization. And in terms of demographics, and then I think the reality is that we're, I feel like we're very similar to other global multinational companies in the sense that we are moving, and I've seen evolution from, you know, this focus on the full-time employee to growing numbers of, you know, contractors. And I see in the future, you know, the move towards, you know, gig workers and kind of more flexibility as our talent wants and expects different opportunities and flexibility from Johnson & Johnson. And certainly the business wants to take advantage of that.

Clint Kofford:
So, you know, I see us moving from the talent management space or the traditional talent management space into something more like talent access, right? And how do we always make sure that we're finding that the best and the brightest for the work that's at hand? And that may come directly from Johnson & Johnson, and it may come from partnerships and relationships that are adjacent to Johnson & Johnson.

Chris Pirie:
Oh, that's really interesting. And you alluded to this a number of times already. It's pretty clear that the company operates with a clear sense of purpose and mission. Can you just lay that out for us?

Clint Kofford:
Yes. So Johnson & Johnson has long been a purpose-based organization. And I would venture to say, we're probably the original purpose-based organization. I don't have data or facts to kind of back that up, but the story of our founders and what they were trying to achieve and to accomplish was certainly much more about purpose and broad impact in the world than it ever was about profits.

Dani Johnson:
We’ve been talking to quite a few people who've done some research on purpose over the summer, and especially how COVID has affected that purpose. We found that purpose is a little bit flexible in some organizations when it comes to large, large disasters. Your credo is really interesting to me. It's always been really interesting to me, but just hearing you talk about it where you're basically saying, we must do this, we must do this. We must do this. Doctors, employees.

Clint Kofford:
Yeah. So it's our doctors, nurses, patients, and our employees that are the communities, and then our shareholders.

Dani Johnson:
If you do all those things, then shareholders should be taken care of, which I think is a really interesting way of looking at it. We see a lot of organizations proclaim to be purpose-driven, but when it comes right down to it, profit comes first. Talk to me about how that credo sort of makes itself known in the culture.

Clint Kofford:
Yeah. So when I interviewed three years ago, I mean, that was a big question that I was asking as well, because I think all of us have been in or have friends that work in companies where they have, you know, grandiose mission statements and whatnot, but they kind of live on the wall and that's about it. And I mean, I will say that it's hard to find a facility in a room where you are not going to find the credo hung prominently on display. But no, our credo really comes alive in how we make decisions on a daily basis. And, you know, I think front and center in everything that's going on in 2020, both from the health pandemic, as well as the pandemic of social injustice and racial inequalities, Johnson & Johnson has, you know, made decisions that are based in our credo around what we need to do.

Clint Kofford:
You know, we a line from our credo says, you know, we must respect the diversity and dignity of our employees. And I think it's, what's happened this summer, you know, with the social injustices has forced us to have, you know, more deep conversations with ourselves and with our vendors around what are we doing and how do we ensure that we are living up fully to our credo. And we are one of the best and constantly recognized in the world of diversity and inclusion for the efforts that we're making, but we're not satisfied with that, and believe that the continued need to live to this line in the credo, as well as many others. And, you know, another piece of work that I can cite this year is that we've come up with a purpose and career planner. So it's a body of work that allows our employees to be able to step back and think about what is their purpose and how does that really align with Johnson & Johnson, with their jobs.

Clint Kofford:
And we believe that that is helping us fulfill the credo as well. You know, we have a line again in paragraph two, it says our employees must have a sense of security, fulfillment, and purpose in their jobs. You know, so on top of traditional methods of engagement surveys and things that we would do to be measuring these, we’re out there actively trying to have conversations with our employees, help our managers have great conversations with their employees around what their skillsets are and how do we help them navigate this giant organization, but an organization with a big heart that wants to help people find this fulfillment and purpose. And, you know we're not naive. We know that the greater productivity, greater results happen when people find meaning and purpose in their roles. And so it's really kind of a win-win.

Dani Johnson:
I think this is particularly interesting because engagement has been such a big discussion in the last five or six years. And most of the engagement surveys that I read are, Hey, are you happy? The whole goal is to determine whether an employee is happy or not. I'm imagining that because of your credo and because of your purpose, your engagement survey may look a little bit different than others, getting to the heart of, you know, how do you feel purpose in your work rather than are you happy with what you're doing?

Clint Kofford:
No, I'd like to think so. I mean, I think we also have room to continue to tweak and fine tune, you know, how we ask some of these questions, but we definitely are interested in more than just the kind of typical engagement questions.

Dani Johnson:
And kind of, along with that, Clint, the, I mean, HR is involved in putting people practices into place and organizations. How does your purpose drive some of those aspects differently than they would in other organizations?

Clint Kofford:
That's where probably the credo comes in the most because we have our priorities in terms of what we need to do and how we need to do that. And so I think, you know, really just you having, you know, that people lens on our business and being able to use that as a kind of a balance to some of the business decisions that we make is really kind of what role HR plays. And, you know, I don't think anybody would say that we've always gotten it right, but we probably get a right most of the time. And certainly, I've learned from, you know, times and moments when we haven't got it as right. And I think part of the purpose of something like the credo is that there's also no clear-cut answer, right? And we use it as a set of guiding principles that help drive debate and discussion around what the right path forward is. These things do have to balance out, and I don't know that one shareholder or stakeholder in the credo can outweigh the others. And so it's awesome weighing out.

Chris Pirie:
It's not like a simple tool to help you make complex decisions really simple, but I'm interested in sort of coming in as a talent professional from the outside. And you think about the kind of suite of functions that a talent professional does in a hiring and retaining and developing and performance managing and all those kinds of things. What's your take on how this strong sense of purpose and in the culture of this organization, does it help any of those things particularly? Is there one of those functions where it makes a huge difference or even in functions where it makes things more complicated?

Clint Kofford:
I think we're trying to fully live into a lot of that a bit more. So I think, you know, I mean, certainly you can come to get into functions like HR and, you know, there may be probably very stereotypical of many HR functions, people that are very passionate about developing and growing other people and helping them to be their best. And they could go to our global community impact team. And I'm sure, you know, find people that are extremely passionate about how they represent Johnson & Johnson and how Johnson & Johnson can help, you know, some of these nonprofits and, you know, expand our influence and in parts of the world that maybe not be able to afford or as readily afford some of the things that we do. But I think, you know, one of the opportunities that I saw was coming in from the outside was that we talk and you feel so much about purpose, but you didn't see it as much in our processes and strategies as I would have expected.

Clint Kofford:
And so we have been on a journey to do that. And so, you know, one of the big strategies that we have in the, in the development space is this notion of a personalized career path. And how do we help create genres of careers or career archetypes that our people can begin pursuing? You know, I think with the democratization oof information in social media and mobile phones and whatnot, I think people have more occasions to question and to learn and to try and decide like what they want to be when they grow up. I think we're all kind of trying to continue to answer that and those questions and, you know, in a company, you have so many different avenues that you can be pursued. And some people are very clear from the very beginning about what that is and that North Star gets set out and, and they just want to know what is the path to get there?

Clint Kofford:
And others are looking for, you know, a variety of experiences and trying to kind of navigate the organization. So what we're trying to do is provide some avenues for those that are cleric can pursue those, whether that's being an expert and being valued having that role of an expert being valued across the enterprise, or being a very broadly based commercial or enterprise leader or somewhere in between. And that, you know, there's also the opportunities to kind of declare where you were at based on what your purpose is. And if that also necessitates a change. There are implications. You can't automatically go from having a depth of expertise to being a broad, you know, enterprise commercial leader. And so there, there may be other experiences that are required to get there, but if your purpose is changed, who are we not to be able to help you achieve that? And I think as we’re more honest with our talent and their aspirations, I think they could be more honest with us about what it is they want and how we can help them find that purpose of meaning.

Chris Pirie:
How are people responding to this?

Clint Kofford: I think people are excited we're in the earlier stages of trying to truly scale this. So lots of work ahead of us in truly kind of making this a big part of the fabric of development at Johnson & Johnson. But I mean, so far through the work that we've done on these on the purpose and career planner and some associated workshops like we are getting you have we have received a tremendous response and are struggling in some ways to keep up with the demand that is coming from that tool.

Chris Pirie :
It's really interesting. We talked to a gentleman called Aaron Hurst, who wrote a book on purpose, and as I've been researching this, a lot of companies have come to this sort of purpose-economy thinking driven by the aspirations of their individual employees. And it's something that a lot of people associate with millennial generation and after that. Your story here is almost kind of reverse it that, right? It's like the foundational principles of the organization embrace purpose. And now your job is to kind of put that into personal terms for the people who work there. Really interesting.

Clint Kofford:
Yeah, no, it is. And, you know, and I think that's probably part of the goal of any learning professional really is to, you know, take what are the unique assets and capabilities that come with an organization and harnessing all of that to really bring to life, you know, the best of that organization. And, you know, certainly in very fortunate that that purpose has those deep roots at Johnson & Johnson.

Chris Pirie:
Can we talk a little bit about this year, 2020? And one of the things we're interested in is how the disruption and the sort of acceleration in some ways towards a future of work where we're maybe more digital and more distributed and so on and so forth, but it's obviously driven a lot of change in people's sort of work habits and environments and activities. How has the pandemic, and you also mentioned the social unrest, impacted the world of work in your organization? And how has it made you think about your role perhaps in the future? And by the way, thanks for working on the vaccine. I read an article this morning that said you have a one-shot vaccine that’s progressing to stage three trials which is just aewsome.

Clint Kofford:
It is. It's amazing again what can be done and what the talent in our organization is able to do. I think this year, obviously for anybody, has been a year like none other and, you know, has challenged assumptions, has challenged our ability to work in new ways and to change paradigms. I think for us, and probably for many others as well, there was a path that led to more virtual-type of engagements and the use of technology. I mean, I think for us specifically, it has shown a light on the need for that. And, you know, frankly it can be as effective and I think it has to be done differently. It's not just putting everything into virtual formats and whatnot, that there is a great place for virtual learning, for the digitization of content.

Clint Kofford:
And I think if anything, it's accelerated our roadmap into more technology-driven learning experiences that is digitization of our content. But I also believe that it's also helped kind of reinforce that from a cultural perspective. As much as we do value some of the scale that would come and, you know, the ability to scale programs that would come through technology and the digitization, our culture really is about relationships. And, you know, a lot of I think a big part of our core programs. I mean, yes, they're there to build capability and individual leaders and in groups of, you know, high-potential leaders and not. I think part of it is about building culture and reinforcing, you know, who we are and how we lead. And those aspects, I think are still a little bit more unique and the value of the networking of the nuances that, you know, of a culture that come alive in a face to face are still going to be important. It's still going to be valued. And it's still something that we're planning on while trying to also take advantage of all the amazing benefits that technology can give us.

Chri Pirie:
It's amazing, isn't it? Because you, I mean, you know, medicine is a technology and obviously you are a technology company, but also a lot of your language and things that you've been talking about is physical, corporeal, right? And it's about the body and the physical health.

Dani Johnson:
I’m really curious. So you talked a lot about sort of marrying the body with the technology as we move forward. And you've also talked about the importance of relationships as you move a lot of things online. I'm just wondering if you have specific examples of things that you're doing to ensure that those relationships are maintained. And the reason that I ask is because this seems to be something that many organizations are struggling with.

Clint Kofford:
Yeah. I mean, I think maybe, you know, a simple example would be our program that we call our executive orientation. And so it's for all of our newly hired or newly promoted vice-president talent and above. And, you know, typically this is a four-and-a-half-day event in person, in New Brunswick that brings together these new leaders from all over the world into a room. Our executive committee spends a great deal of time with them over the course of this week. And they get exposure to other top enterprise leaders that help brief them on kind of what the expectations are of a senior leader and the resources available to them, you know, indoctrinate them in our philosophies around talent and leadership and whatnot. And there's a lot of networking, right? I mean, this builds the relationship. It's a lot of, you know, dinners and events and credo-based, you know, service, community service opportunities that connect them.

Clint Kofford:
And, you know, obviously pulling all those things off is very difficult in a virtual environment. And I think, you know, we've done a very nice job and all the kudos would go to my team. You know, they've, they've done a nice job, really being able to streamline the content. Then I think in some ways, it's a more effective format for we're laying some of the content and then they're just straight up downsized. You're not able to follow up and build any or connect with any of these executives that come in in a more one-on-one format. And I think we just have to recognize that's one of the downsides to this, and we're not going to make up for that, but we have created breakout opportunities for small groups to get together, set up one-on-one meetings. So there's a lot of things happening on the periphery of the core agenda that are attempting to help mitigate some of those senses of loss around, you know, relationship building and whatnot, you know, and I think the tension is the scale, and we normally can only get about 45 people through this program just because of space in a hotel.

Clint Kofford:
And we were able to get a hundred people through the program when we ran it in July. And so neither solution's perfect, but I think we were trying to emphasize on the merits that each brings and, you know, when we're able to, I see this again as a program that probably goes back to being a face-to-face type of event, but with so many learnings that we'll probably be able to be used and help us continue to get really effective at how content is distributed.

Dani Johnson:
I actually really love that. I think when COVID hit, most organizations were like, Oh no, how do I get all my ILT online? How do I make sure that that's all accessible to everybody? As the months have gone on, I've actually seen people really take advantage of technology to do completely different things and address things in completely different ways than they would otherwise. So I'm hoping, you know, as you mentioned, I hope other companies do the same thing that they take a look at maybe at what wasn't working as well or things that worked better in the new way and incorporate them once we sort of get back to normal.

Clint Kofford:
Yeah. I can give you another quick example. So we at the Human Performance Institute, we have our flagship program, which is called Performance. It’s a two-and-a-half-day program that takes place in Orlando. It's an absolutely amazing program. I've been very fortunate to have been exposed to lots of different development experiences in my career. And you know, this is the program that has impacted me the most. And I would have said that 10 years ago, along before I ever came to Johnson & Johnson, or got to work with the Human Performance Institute. And that was when the program was called the Corporate Athlete. But this performance program takes you to Orlando, puts you in a bubble, right? Our building creates this bubble. You're away from your family, you're away from the office. And you're able to kind of be in this perfect environment where we make sure that you are able to exercise and get, you know, help build up that quantity of energy physically, that you need.

Clint Kofford:
We're able to help educate and teach you around the things that you should be eating and the quantities that are going to help you drive that energy. We're able to give you time to step away and reflect on the quality of your energy and the relationships that you have that drive that meaning and purpose in your life. So it's this amazing bubble, right? Well, COVID hits. And, you know, we're still a commercial business this year and have some targets that we need to meet and contracts that we're expected to meet for customers. And so the team went back to the drawing board and said, well, if we can't actually create a, you know, the same bubble, like there's just no way we can do that. How do we use the environment that we are given, this absolute sense of real life that people are in, to our advantage?

Clint Kofford:
And so they rethought the program from the ground up. So it's a completely different experience. Instead of this perfect ideal bubble approach, it's the real-world approach. And now, instead of bringing you in and having you sit in one of the bod pods, we send you a scale. It's a very sophisticated scale that is extremely accurate that gives you a great readout around body mass index. And, you know, some of these factors that are really important to watch in terms of your health. And now you have that as a tool in perpetuity, you know, in your home. And instead of time away to sit and contemplate, you're right there with your family in your real-life environment. And you can go to these people in your life, friends and family, and have conversations with them about how are you showing up and bringing your best energy or not into conversations with them.

Clint Kofford:
We're able to ship you some food, you know, through one of these services like Blue Apron. And instead of, you know, this amazing, you know, high quality, healthy food showing up for you magically at our facility, you order it, you prepare it, and we make that a social experience. So we take all these factors that played against us, and we've turned them into assets for us because of the way we've flipped our content to meet the same need. And so, you know, that program is scored extremely well with our external clients. And I think it is a great example of how you can take the same intent and content, and just flip it to really be advantageous for you in a different environment.

Dani Johnson:
I really love that. I especially love the fact that you're focusing on the physical, not very many companies do it. It's not something that's generally thought of, but I love the fact that you're focusing on the physical. I want to ask two more quick questions before Chris asks his last question. The first one is, what do you think the toughest problems facing talent management or talent in general are in the immediate future?

Clint Kofford:
I'm going to go back to that comment I made around talent access. I mean, I think this is a really, you know, personally, a really messy and interesting space, and I don't know, you know, who's going to really crack the code on this first because from a sheer benefits perspective, people are willing to be contractors and they'd love the flexibility, but every contractor that’s worked for me, and this is, you know, whether I was at Mars or Nike or now J&J, they want the benefits. They want the perks, they want security, and they want the recognition that they actually were part of the brand, that it wasn't just, they're not just working for some staffing agency. I mean, they were doing work for Nike or for Johnson & Johnson. And, and I think that's a big deal, a big, big point of pride.

Clint Kofford:
And you have these co-employment laws that then also get in the middle of this and force us to go away from good talent, so we can find good talent, but we can only use them for so long. And we're not going to, and when I say we, I think this is all big companies, are just not, you know, extremely agile to be able to move kind of with the talent. And so I think figuring out what talent access really looks like, and how do gigs really play out because there's a lot of gig workers, but our enterprise procurement processes and stuff, they like big contracts with a global vendor, not these individual, you know, sole proprietors. So I think, figuring that out and how we can truly access. There's a lot of big talk, right? I think in this space, but making that really practical is one of the most exciting kind of horizons in this space.

Dani Johnson:
We actually agree. We just kicked off a study on mobility, like how people move in and around and out and in, how do you borrow talent and all that good stuff. So I'll probably be hitting you up for some ideas later on Clint.

Clint Kofford:
No, that'd be great. I would love your ideas.

Chris Pirie:
I agree. It's a massive challenge. And basically the regulatory system has not caught up with what people want. And I think it is going to be a huge challenge. And I'm really interested in whether, you know, this was a challenge that we faced at Microsoft too. We have a massive third-party network of resellers and partners of Microsoft. It dwarfs the actual population. And yet we were very heavily governed around how we could engage with people that worked with our partners.

Dani Johnson:
The whole idea that, you know, they can't attend certain things or they don't get certain trainings, or it's kind of heartbreaking.

Chris Pirie :
It breaks the model, but I just wonder, I want to put this thought out there and then you can ask the next question is whether this notion of purpose and the brand itself can be the glue that holds talent together for, you know, either in the short term or the long term. And I wonder what role purpose will play in that.

Clint Kofford:
I mean, I think it absolutely can. And I think, again, what's probably got to shift is some of our internal paradigms. And, you know, I think that's true of Johnson & Johnson, but I think it's all, you know, big, large companies. So it's our paradigms. I think it's a lot of, you know, the systems that are in place that incentive, you know, the behaviors and the rewards that come with, you know, full-time employment versus a contract or a gig or that sort of thing. I think purpose can play a big role there because that's what resonates with people. And, you know, I think the more we're able to engage people and have them feel like they're part of Johnson & Johnson and that they contributed directly to, you know, certain projects and that the company can also be comfortable knowing that, Hey, we have access to great talent and that talent may or may not choose to be with us for 5 years, 10 years.

Clint Kofford:
They may come in, and again, that could be coming in for a project that could be coming in for two years before, you know, spinning out to go do something else. And purposes really are aligned, then hopefully they'd be back. And, you know, really kind of building on that almost tour of duty concept that was, I think really well articulated in the book called ‘The Talent Alliance.’ But I think it's more of that type of mentality. That's going to bring purpose and as leaders can get more authentic and transparent about what is best for an employee, what the company can provide, and company and employees can be more clear about their purpose, you know, I think it's going to help drive a better mutual understanding about how to help develop and grow and accelerate careers that could be tied to, with purpose both from the company side as well as the individuals

Chris Pirie:
Looking at the time we got a couple of quick questions left. Do you want to go first, Dani? And then we'll wrap.

Dani Johnson:
Yep. That sounds good. So the final question we have is what advice would you give to other talent leaders who are trying to lead with a more purpose-aligned organization?

Clint Kofford:
That's a great question. I'm not sure that there's an easy answer because I think it's so hard if the company doesn't value purpose as much, right? And I've been very fortunate that at all the companies that I've been able to work for, purpose is baked in there somehow, right? And to varying degrees and whatnot, but it's there. And so I think I've been lucky and fortunate that there's been a bit easier way of making that happen. I think that could be very hard and probably the best advice would be just aligning with what the business is trying to achieve. And as they're able to do that notion or that part of the purpose may be able to come about. And I think, you know, just helping people be their best selves and bringing to light all the talent that is within the individuals and their organizations, that that's a very noble purpose in and of itself. I don't know if that's a very good answer.

Dani Johnson:
That’s a great answer.

Chris Pirie:
A great answer. Why did you choose to do the line of work that you do? Was there somebody or something or someone who inspired you to do the work that you do?

Clint Kofford:
So I can just share kind of succinctly my purpose is to bring hope to every employee at Johnson & Johnson. From my Nike days, I would put an asterisk after hope and define hope as being meaning and momentum. Really the objective that I have is to bring to that meaning and the momentum in a career to every employee at Johnson & Johnson. And for me, it actually stems back. I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I was 19 years old, I lived in Russia and I have developed a deep love for the Russian people. I had the chance to live in the St. Petersburg area. And I think one of the things that just was so powerful in my time there was realizing, like I was on the streets, you know, daily interacting with people that had PhDs in economics, but we're working in a bread factory and, you know, people that had, you know, great musical talents, but the only jobs that they could find were at that time were, you know, an auto mechanic stores. And so I think there's just this need in all of humankind to achieve the best that's within them. And both, I think that is manifest in both being able to learn and grow. And so sometimes that's experiences like school or programs, but it's also momentum. It's just a feeling of forward progress in my career in it. And it doesn't always have to be upward, right? It can be, it can be lateral, it can be new, you know, in different areas of a business or of life. But I think people want to find that meaning and that satisfaction and they want momentum. And I think when people experience those two things, then they're going to do amazing things for the world. And you know, that those were some similar experiences for me in Russia that's kind of driven what I'm trying to achieve in my career for the companies that I've been blessed to work with.

Chris Pirie:
Thank you so much for sharing. Meaning and momentum. It's really good. Is there somewhere that people can connect with you or learn about your work? Either personally or through J&J?

Clint Kofford:
I'm more than happy to connect with people. You can find me on LinkedIn, talk about J&J or other things.

Chris Pirie:
Awesome, great insights. Thanks so much for your time today. Really appreciate it.

Clint Kofford:
Absolutely. No, thanks. Thanks for having me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dani Johnson

Dani is Co-founder and Principal Analyst for RedThread Research. She has spent the majority of her career writing about, conducting research in, and consulting on human capital practices and technology. Her ideas can be found in publications such as Wall Street Journal, CLO Magazine, HR Magazine, and Employment Relations. Dani holds an MBA and an MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering from BYU.

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