Magazine Article | May 27, 2015

Does Your Company Have a Quality Culture?

Source: Life Science Leader
Rob Wright author page

By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @RfwrightLSL

If you have worked at your company for longer than six months, then you can probably describe your organization’s culture in one word, which hopefully doesn’t involve an expletive. As you can probably attest, depending upon the quality of a company’s culture (i.e., high versus low), working there can be either a blessing or a curse. Interestingly, even during these times of uncertainty and high unemployment, approximately two million Americans voluntarily leave their jobs every month. Of the reasons given, leaving a crappy corporate culture behind is among the top five. Although some of you may be thinking “good riddance to bad rubbish” when an employee opts to move on, Life Science Leader editorial advisory board member and leadership expert, Mike Myatt, reminds us that few things in business are as costly and disruptive as an unexpected departure, especially when it is of the toptalent variety. According to Myatt, employees who are challenged, engaged, valued, and rewarded (emotionally, intellectually, and financially) rarely leave, and more importantly, they perform at very high levels. In other words, creating a culture of quality not only means greater job satisfaction, greater productivity, and less turnover, but it also implies fewer mistakes — a pretty important concept when it comes to the manufacture and distribution of safe and efficacious medicines.

At a recent ISPE (International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering) Quality Metrics Summit, it was evident that today’s bio and pharmaceutical drug manufacturers focus on providing a safe, compliant, and reliable supply. But it was clear that creating a culture of quality, not just at one’s own organization but throughout our entire biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry, plays a pivotal role in this process. During the opening plenary session, Willie Deese, EVP and president of Merck’s manufacturing division, stated that at his organization, the focus is on measuring supply chain performance using metrics that are predictive of outcomes. “Our pursuit is to be good, not to look good,” he said. “In the process of being good, you will in fact, look good.” For Deese, the key is not just measures and metrics but consistent leadership enabling a culture of accountability that is connected to the customer, so everyone understands why the work they do is so important. “People often ask, ‘Can you measure culture?’” he stated. “I would say it’s a difficult thing to measure. But it’s not difficult to determine whether or not you have the right culture.”

This month’s cover story (p. 20) features Bruce Cozadd, Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ cofounder, chairman, and CEO. Unlike most start-ups where founders first focus on products, leaving the corporate culture to evolve on its own, Cozadd and his cofounders concentrated on creating a company – culture first. He said if you have been in or around a strong positive corporate culture, you realize the benefits it provides in getting a company through the tough times (e.g., when Jazz was trading for < $1 a share). Unfortunately, if a company’s culture is not what you want, Cozadd believes it can be very hard to change, even from the CEO seat. Having gone through two pharmaceutical industry company culture change initiatives (e.g., Mead Johnson Nutritionals and Organon Biopharmaceuticals), I concur with his assessment. If you want high-quality people, products, and eventually profits, consider Cozadd’s approach, which began with not just building a high-quality corporate culture but measuring it as well.